SANZAR Judiciary still an enigma

Crucial

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I'll steal an article from Kaplan's Rate the Ref site to explain this as it is a fairly reasonable summary of events.

We received a letter from one of our fans who also happens to be an attorney. In it he shares his thoughts on SANZAR’s recent judicial findings. It’s a great read so we thought we’d share it with you!
The inconsistencies in the penalties being meted out by judicial officers is making a complete mockery of the game.


Consider the incidents involving Owen Franks of the Crusaders, Kane Hames of the Highlanders and Hayden Triggs of the Blues.


All three were cited in term of Rule10.4 (a) “Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee.”


All three appeared before SANZAR judicial officer, Robert Stelzner and were represent by Mr Aaron Lloyd.


All three pleaded guilty to a transgression of the said Law.


Here are the facts and you be the judge.


In the 10th minute of the match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders, Owen Franks struck Josh Hohneck twice on the back of the head with his forearm. Unfortunately Chris Pollock was injured before the game and the incident escaped the attention of Super 15 debutante ref Ben O’Keeffe who had stepped into the breach and who failed to refer the matter to the TMO. In all probability, Franks would have been red carded and it is highly debatable whether the Crusaders would have won a match playing with 14 players for all of 70 minutes.


In the 74th minute of the self-same match, another prop, this time Kane Hames, punched Dominic Bird. This also escaped on-field sanction.


In fact as a side to the point of this article, the Highlanders received the “rough edge of the wedge” throughout the game with numerous dubious decisions going against them and can feel most aggrieved with the final outcome. Nothing and I mean nothing went their way. I expect them to bounce back in no uncertain terms and thump the Reds this week.


Meanwhile “back at the ranch,” Stelzner entered the fray. He handed down a 2-match ban to Franks and a 5-match “holiday” to Hames.


This he attempted to justify, by regarding the Franks incident as having “a low-range entry point which stipulates a two-week suspension” based on “the player submitted that he was attempting to remove the Highlanders player from the wrong side of the maul. His intention was to remove the player, who was quite bigger than him, by grabbing him around the chest which would require some force, then using his bodyweight to attempt to force his opponent down and away from the ball. The player conceded that in these attempts, he struck his opponent with his arm in a careless way, but there was no malice intended.”


Incredible! Firstly, how do you remove a player from a maul by hitting him on the head? Surely, if that was the case, you push him or pull his jersey or bodily remove him? Secondly, you can possibly argue a lack of intent if you strike an opponent once on the head, but twice? Stelzner then adds 1 week to the suspension for Franks’ “reckless” actions, but then promptly “withdraws” the week on the grounds of the usual garbage about his illustrious suspension free career that preceded this incident and that he had pleaded “guilty.”


Further hereto, Stelzner takes into account that Franks would allegedly have played for the Crusaders’ feeder team on the weekend of March 7-8 thereby regarding this as the second match of the ban, meaning that Franks only gets an effective 1 match Super15 ban which is this week against the Chiefs.


Hames – whose inquiry was heard prior to Franks’ – got slapped with a 5 match ban, Stelzner cited his misdemeanour as having a “mid-range entry point which stipulates a five-week suspension” Aggravating factors were that Bird apparently suffered an injury of sorts (so did Vermuelen) which saw Stelzner add a further two weeks which he then promptly “removed” courtesy of mitigating factors of a “guilty” plea and the usual apparent remorse.


Finally, there is the one-week ban for Hayden Triggs courtesy of a left hook, right hook combo to Dwayne Vermuelen’s face.


Stelzner, preposterously regarded the incident as having a “low-range entry point,” and then “rewards” Triggs with a one-match “bonsella” and an effective one-game suspension by taking into consideration the following.


a) That Triggs had been “provoked” and had “retaliated.” Well, Vermuelen was also “provoked” and more so after collecting two full blooded shots to his mug and he didn’t retaliate.


b) That Triggs had admitted guilt promptly. On what basis could he possibly have pleaded “not guilty”?


c) That his red card had a profound impact on the match. Stelzner stated that “the adverse effect of the player’s actions on his own teams prospects of winning by being ordered off at a relatively early part of the match, after his team had been awarded a penalty, which could potentially have put the Blues in the lead, played a role in recommending the sanction.”


What has that got to do with it? That isn’t a mitigating factor. Franks stayed on the park and that cost the Highlanders the match, so based on this absurd ruling, Franks should conversely have been banned for a few more matches as his team won because of his indiscretion.


Also bear in mind that both the Frank’s and Trigg’s incidents had a profound effect on the outcome of the match. Hames’ incident occurred in the 74th minute.


I’m sure there may be some who believe the relevant sentences to be fair, but to me, the respective punishments are incomprehensible. If punching a player twice in the face with your fist or hitting a player twice on the back of the head with your forearm both of which constitute a criminal assault, is regarded as a “low-range” offence and worthy of a net one match Super 15 ban, then we may as well play “rollerball” and institute cage fighting rules.

The only bit I think that the writer missed was that Triggs actually had his nose broken by an elbow to the face from Vermuelen before he threw his punches (as retaliation from being held back after a lineout), so there was arguably 'some' mitigation.

Hames:

http://tvnz.co.nz/ru...n-video-6240209

Franks:

http://www.sportsjoe...m-smashes/14770

No real footage of Triggs as the play had gone to the other side of the field. He can be seen in the distance throwing two decent punches though and has never argued that he didn't.

The Franks decision is bizarre.
 

SimonSmith


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He makes some fair points, and some that are ignorant of process (writes a Discipline Officer)

Everything stems from the deemed starting point. Mitigation, exacerbation, they both tend to be formulaically applied. Pled guilty? Get a discount. Unlike UK courts where the Judge can reduce the amount of mitigation if the guilty plea is in the face of overwehelming evidence, the DO will just give the discount.

Get the wrong entry point, and the whole thing is a shambles.
 

Browner

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He says "here are the facts" and then uses tone and language that suggests a 'slight' bias

Which undermines any point he wishes to make, which is what? Maybe that the JO is useless,inconsistent,biased,cheating,or in the pocket of Sepp Blatter (sarc) !!!!!...
 

Crucial

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Yeah forget the semantics of the guys letter, it's not the point. I only quoted it as it gave a summary of events.

Both the Triggs and Franks starting points should have been around 5 weeks IMO. The DJO has already believed Franks' story before judging entry point by the look of it.

The Franks one is just baffling if you watch the footage. You could (if gullible) believe his story about using force to try and drive his arm into the maul to remove the player (there was no mention in the report from the DJO about contravening 17.3(a) ) if it wasn't for the second swig of the arm in exactly the same fashion after the player was well and truly out and on the ground.

Here is the decision

"As the Duty Judicial Officer, I considered all of the evidence before me including the video footage, Citing Commissioner's report and the submissions of Mr Aaron Lloyd made on behalf of the player.


"After taking all relevant facts of the incident into consideration, I found the incident to have a lower end entry point for breaches of 10.4 (a) Punching or striking which stipulates a two week suspension.


"The player submitted that he was attempting to remove the Highlanders player from the wrong side of maul. His intention was to remove the player, who was quite bigger than him, by grabbing him around the chest which would require some force, then using his bodyweight to attempt to force his opponent down and away from the ball. The player conceded that in these attempts, he struck his opponent with his arm in a careless way, but there was no malice intended.


"I concluded that while the offending was not intentional, the player's actions were reckless in his attempts to remove the opponent from the maul. Aggravating factors involved were that there were two instances of a strike, with the second being the more reckless than the first along with the opponent being in a somewhat vulnerable position with some risk of injury. I added one week to the suspension as a result of these factors. This was then reduced by one week due to mitigating factors including the player's admission of culpability and making concessions where required for his actions, the player has had an extensive career at Super Rugby and Test level with no suspensions to his name.


"After taking all these factors into consideration, I found that a suspension of two weeks was warranted which was accepted by the player.


"The player's playing schedule is such that the Crusaders have a match against the Chiefs on 28 February followed by a bye in which the Crusaders Knights have a match in which the player was scheduled to play. I asked for direct evidence from the Head Coach as to the history of Crusaders players being used in the Knights matches and whether other players would also be scheduled to play.


"The Crusaders Knights program is used by the Crusaders to give players additional games during bye weeks and I received confirmation that a number of other players, including other All Blacks, were going to be used in the Knights game which has been scheduled since January. I accepted this match to be included in the suspension period to make a meaningful sanction for the player.


"Accordingly, the player is suspended for two weeks up to and including 8 March 2015."

Ignore all the bullshit at the end where the DJO was convinced by the coach that Franks (an AB under instruction to have a reduced workload in Super Rugby during RWC year) was scheduled to play for the second string side in the bye week for the moment. That is usual and expected.
 
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