Ray Nu’u’s miserable Super Rugby season took another turn for the worse on Wednesday when he was banned for four weeks following his red card in his return game following an earlier three-game suspension.
The Melbourne Rebels center was sent off for his second consecutive game, in the 81st minute of the Rebels clash with Moana Pasifika for a high shot on playmaker Christian Lealiifano and it will likely rule him out for the rest of the Rebels. campaign.
SANZAAR’s court system reduced the two-week suspension, even though Nu’u had just returned to action after his three-week suspension for another red card for the same offense – breaking Law 9.13 – “A player must not tackle an opponent early late or dangerously”.
“In relation to the sanction, the Judicial Committee found that the act of foul play merited an average entry point of 6 weeks due to World Rugby’s directive which states that any incident of foul play involving contact with the head should start at the mid-entry level,” SANZAAR said.
“Given the mitigating circumstances, in particular the Player’s remorse, his young age and his behavior during the hearing; the Judiciary Committee reduced the suspension by two weeks.
SANZAAR’s statement ignored Nu’u’s previous suspension and The Roar pundit Brett McKay was among those surprised by the length of the ban.
With four rounds remaining, starting with the Blues on Friday night in Auckland, and the Rebels unlikely to play the finals, Nu’u should see the season from the stands.
In other court news, Crusaders lock Hamish Dalzell has been suspended for three weeks for a dangerous tackle in the second half of their loss to NSW Waratahs.
The hard-hitting review of Crusaders
Scott Robertson reacted to the surprise loss to the Waratahs last weekend with a comprehensive review that stung his players.
Hooker Bryn Hall said the focus on the Crusaders’ poor start – they were down 14-0 in a flash – was particularly hurtful.
“Look, we’re going to lose games, we’ve lost games in the past, but when you ask about our start and were we really there, and having that kind of [mindset] questions… it hurts as a player,” Hall said.
“I think for us, it’s the kind of traits that we experience that we don’t respect. This is probably the most painful thing.
Captain Codie Taylor said after the match ended that the Waratahs wanted the win more than the Kiwi team.
“Those are fair comments,” Hall said. “If you look at those first 20-30 minutes, you can’t really question it.
“That’s probably what hurt us, we have a standard that we want to uphold and I have this crest on my right chest that we live by…”
Sydney Morning Herald rugby writer Georgina Robinson, speaking on The Roar Rugby podcast on Wednesday, questioned the attitude of the Crusaders.
“It’s not going to go well everywhere, but I wonder if there hasn’t been a bit of complacency,” Robinson said.
Host Brett McKay added: “Watching them play, it looked like they thought they could just roll over to Sydney and hit the Waratahs.”
While co-host Harry Jones agreed: “The Crusaders didn’t take the Waratahs seriously. The crusaders thought ‘we’re going to overthrow them, we’re going to trample them'”.
Jones said that a few years ago the Tahs would have fallen back when the Crusaders finally woke up, but “this time they hung on”.
Robinson warned Kiwi teams would bounce back.
“Whenever that happens, the Kiwis respond and they’re good at it,” Robinson said.
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The French club say goodbye to Latu
Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu has been released by his French club Stade Français after his 11-week ban ended a controversial spell at the Paris club.
Latu has been linked with a return to the Waratahs to try and claim a place in the Wallabies squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but so far the NSW side, who are happy with Dave Porecki’s progress, has been tight-lipped about a potential return.
“Thanks to our hooker Tolu Latu for these three seasons,” wrote the Parisians on Twitter.
“We wish you the best for what is to come.
“Welcome back home safely,” they added.
Latu has scored six tries, received two red cards and seven yellow cards in 54 appearances for Stade Français.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I am leaving the club,” Latu said on Instagram.
“It’s time for me to go home and start the next chapter of my rugby.”
Brumbies are looking to make amends
Australia’s top-ranked Super Rugby Pacific side, the Brumbies, have unfinished business in New Zealand starting with the Chiefs on Saturday.
The Brumbies have won their last two against Kiwi opposition, beating the Highlanders in Melbourne and then the Hurricanes in Canberra, to take second place overall in the competition.
But last year, like the other four Australian teams, the Brumbies struggled on New Zealand soil.
They lost all three games there and managed just one win in two games at Canberra, with a two-point victory over the Hurricanes their best result.
Their Wallabies winger Tom Wright said last year’s results stung the team.
“Leaving aside last year, there’s definitely a burning sensation for some of us,” Wright said in Canberra on Tuesday.
“We went there last year and got a bit of a touch up so we’re definitely looking to make amends for what happened then, so it’s a good opportunity for us.”
The Chiefs won 51-27 against the Waratahs in the Super Round as they edged Queensland by two points in an ugly affair last weekend.
They are fourth on the table and will love their chances against the Brumbies at home at FMG Stadium in Waikato.
Wright said his team took lessons from the New Zealanders to try and beat them at their own game.
“It’s kind of the tempo,” he said when asked what changes the Brumbies have made over the past 12 months to prepare for the Kiwi squads.
“At the weekend we looked good when we played backhand and Whitey (Nic White) and Loners (Ryan Lonergan) were jumping and looking menacing around the ruck.
“We try to play in and out of the structure… and take opportunities in the central part of the pitch where the Kiwis have been really good.
“Throw our hats to them – we’ve taken a few elements of what they do and it works for us.”