The appalling viral tackle the rugby world cannot believe was not red
By Rugby Onslaught

The appalling viral tackle the rugby world cannot believe was not red

There was a lot of dangerous play over the weekend in both domestic and international rugby, but nothing has created a social media storm like the yellow card shown to Perpignan’s Tom Ecochard against Lyon on Saturday.

This was a weekend where an All Black was red carded, and even the All Blacks’ captain Sam Cane found himself in hot water, but this tackle in the Top 14 has proven to be the hottest topic.

Ecochard can count himself as maybe the luckiest man in rugby, as the No9 basically decapitated Lyon’s fullback Davit Niniashvili and was only yellow carded. The rugby world has almost entirely been in agreement with this one believing it was a red, but referee Jonathan Dufort concluded that Niniashvili changed his angle at the last second, which caused Ecochard to mistime his tackle and go high. That is actually true, but it did not look like Ecochard was planning on lowering his height and he hit with a lot of force.

This was not only important in the match, as it was within the first 20 minutes of Perpignan’s 28-21 win, but it might be huge in the context of the entire season as the win lifted Ecochard’s side from the foot of the Top 14 table.

TAS Analytics shared the video recently online. Take a look:

TAS Analytics wrote: “I saw this clip circulating on social media of the Top 14 clash in the Perpignan vs Lyon match. It was an incident where Davit Niniashvili ran up with the ball and he gets a direct shot to the head from Tom Ecochard, who comes in flying with a shoulder. It was an absolute reckless hit to Davit’s head and could’ve concussed him easily. The thing that makes this worse is how it was dealt with by the officiating team. You would think the replays would help the TMO make the correct call but they still find a way to screw it up.

“In this case, the ref immediately stops the game after the hit, as it looked dangerous as soon as it happened. He has a discussion with the Assistant Referee and he ends up going with the TMO. This is where it becomes ridiculous, the TMO then checks the replay and every single angle shows the exact same thing, it shows a defender recklessly going in with his shoulder, and making direct contact to the head of the ball carrier with high force. There is no mitigating factor. Yet the TMO takes almost 3 minutes of watching the same slow motion replay before coming to a conclusion. Now you would think he takes this long to make a decision then we wouldn’t mess it up, yet as seen in the video he finds a way to make the wrong decision. Him and the ref have their discussions and they end up only giving a yellow card for this challenge. This was absolutely absurd considering how strict World Rugby has been with head collisions. I’ve seen players getting red card for barely making accidental head contact to the head of the ball carrier. Yet in this case, they only deem it yellow for a player recklessly hitting a ball carrier in the head with his shoulder. It’s a complete joke how inconsistent officiating has become. This needs to stop. The referee, Jonathan Dufort, and his TMO should answer some serious questions for this mishap.”