Saturday 24 February 2018

Tony Ward: Hazell outburst leaves lingering doubts

By the nature of the game, there are many acts of violence in rugby, but there are two in particular I abhor. Foot to head or finger to eye is almost beyond defence in my book.

Yet, as I watched Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell (right) absolutely lose it by way of what could be best described as a flurry of punches to the body of grounded Mont de Marsan prop Sebastien Ormaechea followed by a knee to the head, I, like most everybody else, wondered, given the blind, uncontrollable rage, what possibly could have triggered that?

Hazell claims to have been gouged by Ormaechea, thereby instigating the extraordinary loss of control. Former referee John West, as citing commissioner, has viewed the match video in detail but could not exact any evidence to warrant a counter-citing against the French prop. On that basis, one would expect the disciplinary book to be thrown and the maximum suspension -- up to 12 weeks -- imposed.

Knee, like boot to head, should leave little room for doubt and yet one can't but feel something very dark and very definite caused a player to lose it the way he did. One assumes the disciplinary committee will be bound to act on the evidence as presented. Who ever said administering justice was easy?

Irish Independent

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