Reds’ Wallabies duo slapped with bans after ‘brain explosion’ and ‘always illegal’ tackle

David Skippers
Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight Reds Super Rugby 2022 - Alamy.jpg

Tate McDermott and fellow Wallaby Fraser McReight in action for the Reds.

The Reds’ Super Rugby Pacific campaign suffered a double setback when Wallabies duo Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight received three-week suspensions.

This, after they received red cards during the Brisbane-based outfit’s 17-14 defeat against Moana Pasifika in Whangarei last Friday.

Swinging arm offence

McDermott, who is the Reds’ co-captain, received his marching orders early in the second half for striking Irie Papuni with a swinging arm during a tackle.

McReight was also sent off during the latter stages of that game when he made a high tackle on William Havili.

The flanker is eligible to have his ban reduced by a week via World Rugby’s “tackle school” but scrum-half McDermott will miss the Reds’ home games against the Highlanders and Blues as well as the away match against the Crusaders.

Super Rugby Pacific’s Foul Pay Review Committee (FRPC) found McDermott contravened Law 9.12: a player must not physically abuse anyone. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to punching or striking with hand, arm (including stiff-arm tackle), elbow or shoulder.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and the player’s submissions, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card and found the Player to have contravened Law 9.12,” read a SANZAAR statement.

“The entry point for the offence was six weeks (assessed as mid-range for intentional and deliberate physical abuse of striking with arm to the side of the victim player’s head where the victim player was in a vulnerable position with limited ability, if any, to defend himself).”

‘Total brain explosion’ – TWO Wallabies stars sent off as Reds pay price for ill-discipline

Although the entry point for his indiscretion was six weeks, McDermott received a discount for entering an early guilty plea, showing remorse and his prior disciplinary record.

Of McReight’s offence, the FPRC said: “The FPRC was concerned by the ‘upright nature of the tackle’ and determined that it was an ‘always illegal’ act of foul play.

“In those circumstances mitigation would not apply.

“The FPRC was concerned by the “upright nature of the tackle” and determined that it was an “always illegal” act of foul play. In those circumstances mitigation would not apply.

“Even if it was not an “always illegal” act of foul play, there was, in the FPRC’s view, no sudden or significant change in height or direction, a late change in dynamics (or any other relevant mitigating factor set out within the Head Contact Process) to result in mitigation sufficient to downgrade the incident to a yellow card,” they explained.

“The entry point for the offence was 6 weeks (assessed as mid-range in line with World Rugby’s mandate and given there were no other factors applicable, in this instance, to increase the entry point). The Player was given a discount for entering an early guilty plea (and other relevant mitigating factors, including remorse and prior disciplinary record), reducing the suspension from six weeks to three weeks. The Player is therefore suspended up to and including 4 May 2024.”

Suspensions adding to Reds’ woes

The players’ suspensions have added to the Reds’ woes, as they have now lost three matches in a row after also suffering defeats to the Western Force and Brumbies in recent weeks.

Those losses and the one to Moana has seen the Reds drop to sixth position on the Super Rugby Pacific table.

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