Highlander cops three-week ban for Banks hit
SUPER RUGBY NEWS: Highlanders wing Sio Tomkinson has been slapped with a three-week suspension for his hit on Tom Banks, but that will be of little comfort to the Brumbies.
The Highlanders clinched an after-the-siren victory in Canberra with Tomkinson on the field after he escaped being sent off for the dangerous tackle on Banks in the 44th minute.
Tomkinson failed to wrap his arms as his shoulder hit Banks’ head, but referee Nic Berry deemed the initial contact “shoulder to shoulder” and opted for a yellow card on Saturday.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar called it a red card and the SANZAAR citing commissioner agreed the next day before accepting Tomkinson’s guilty plea and banning him on Tuesday.
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— Steve Lenthall (@steve_l15) February 15, 2020
World Rugby dictates any foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range grading level, which carries a minimum of six weeks.
But due to Tomkinson’s clean record, his suspension was halved and he’ll be free to play against the Jaguares on March 15.
McKellar suggested after the game Super Rugby officials were not following the strict red-card precedent set at the World Cup last year.
World Rugby vowed to protect players at the 2019 World Cup and a record eight red cards were brandished – more than the past four tournaments combined – including one by Berry.
McKellar didn’t blame Berry’s decision for the heartbreaking loss which snapped a 10-game winning run at home, but was adamant it should have been red.
“I thought it was a red card,” McKellar said.
“If you’re asking me as a rugby fan, I thought, from what we’ve seen previously, I thought it was in that red card threshold.”
Even Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger conceded by the letter of the law Tomkinson could have been sent off.
“It’s a tough one, isn’t it,” Mauger said.
“If you’re reffing to the letter it’s contact with the head, but I don’t think there was any malice there and there’s nowhere for him to go.
“It’s one of those ones that happens in a split second, so I don’t think there was any chance of pulling out.”
The Brumbies were kept scoreless in the 10 minutes Tomkinson was off the field.
Conversely, when Brumbies lock Murray Douglas was sin-binned in the 80th minute for repeated infringements the Highlanders were able to score and win 23-22.