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Hooper cleared to play in vital Brumbies clash


Chris Dutton

Michael Hooper has been cleared to play.

Michael Hooper has been cleared to play. Photo: Getty Images

The ACT Brumbies have received a massive boost ahead of their season-defining clash against the Queensland Reds with star flanker Michael Hooper avoiding suspension.

SANZAR reduced its penalty on Hooper this morning after a judicial hearing last night.

Hooper was cited for a lifting tackle on Wellington Hurricanes No8 Victor Vito in the Brumbies' 37-25 win last Friday night.

The original review stated the incident had reached the red-card threshold.

However, after Hooper and the Brumbies pleaded their case the 20-year-old's penalty was reduced to an off-field yellow card which does not carry a suspension.

Judicial Officer Nick Davidson QC ruled Hooper's tackle was on the low-scale of lifting tackles.

It's a major relief for the Brumbies who can edge closer to a drought-breaking finals berth if they beat the Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

Hooper is now free to take on Reds No7 Liam Gill in a clash of Australia two best young flankers.

Gill is the Australian under-20s captain while Hooper was the Australian under-20s player of the year last season.

Both have emerged as future Wallabies with brilliant performances this season.

SANZAR released a statement on the Hooper decision this morning which said:

“Mr Davidson concluded that Hooper made an orthodox tackle around the knees but was driven back by the ball carrier who drove forward with his right leg raised high.

“Hooper did not change his hold on that leg and his other arm was in contact but ineffectual. From that position the ball carrier was left without balance on his left foot. This was not so much a lifting but holding the right leg in a high position which with the momentum saw Vito fall sharply to his left, landing on his elbow then shoulder then placing the ball.

“He was not injured. The referee was emphatic that the penalty was sufficient and reflected a lifting and losing control rather than a tipping or driving.

“The JO considered the crux of the decision lay in whether Hooper lifted or tipped the ball carrier. The evidence did not establish a lift in the ordinary way but that Hooper did contribute to the tipping which partly rose from the destabilised position of the ball carrier in driving the tackler back with his right leg high.

“The decision of the referee is to stand in his assessment of the incident as to the facts and gravity unless considered to be wrong. His position was clearly expressed. He found a breach but for slightly different reasons than the JO.

“The contribution to the tipping puts the player in breach but it was contributory only and otherwise arose from an orthodox tackle.

“He has an excellent disciplinary and off field record. Rule 9.2 allows a yellow off field card where the breach is low end and there are compelling mitigating features as here and there are no aggravating features. While the spate of these incidents may be seen as aggravating this is tempered by the unusual facts here.”

13 comments so far

  • The Sanzar judicial system is the bane of the game. The tip tackle was common place 5 yrs ago and now they have decided to outlaw it, and understandably because it potentially can be dangerous,yet they have difficulty in maintaining consistency. I'm not saying hooper is guilty . What I will say is based on his innocence dig by ioane didn't deserve five weeks. These inconsistencies reduce the system to farcical and in need of an overhaul.

    Date and time
    May 22, 2012, 9:15AM
    • This ruling is inconsistent and unfair; how about the tackles which Diggers and Horne got pinged and suspended for where was the statement and reasoning there? Yellow card should be enough full stop; or if you want to be reasonable and also perfectly clear the suspension should directly correlate with the time which the player tackled is injured - pretty simple and will deliver the same result.

      What a load of rubbish
      Date and time
      May 22, 2012, 9:28AM
      • Totally agree with the comments made by both "Qlder" & "What a load of rubbish". Its these inconsistencies of rulings by those "supposedly" in the know that makes it difficult to entice new supporters to this wonderful game. The breakdown is always going to be hard for refereeing - but referee rulings on the scrums are seriously inconsistent and should be so much easier to assess & what the hell is the time difference between various ref's on touch, pause, engage?? Keith Brown must of waited an extra 2secs between pause & engage where I believe Jonkers refereeing from the previous week to be far superior and more in line with what the public like to see ie; not continuous resetting of scrums but a definite call and free flow rugby....just my opinion :-)

        Date and time
        May 22, 2012, 10:52AM
        • Agree.
          Timing of scrum calls should be the same.

          Hooper got off light. SANZAR just hates QLD.
          But it doesn't matter that he's playing anyway.
          Reds by 13.

          QLDer living in ACT
          Date and time
          May 22, 2012, 12:23PM
        • Part of a fair system is taking each case on its merits. That means that some rulings APPEAR inconsistent.

          It all boils down the circumstances of each indvidual matter and to a much lesser extent, the record of the player and any previous incidents in the match.

          For example - if Hooper had had a punch-up with Victor Vito 2 minutes before the tackle, you could convincingly argue (INMHO) that that shows an intent to injure compared to the same tackle with no prior incident.

          The ruling, in all the circumstances, was fair.

          Date and time
          May 22, 2012, 2:51PM
      • Bloody qlders you all cry foul. The tackle was no where near the same as digby or Horne's which both were clearly lifting and then dropping!!! Hooper's was a driving tackle from a much smaller man on a larger player.

        The end result mean Australian rugby will get to se these two outstanding players battle it out!!! Isn't that what we all want for Australian rugby????

        Brumbies to win and the rebels to finish higher on the table than the Tahs.

        Date and time
        May 22, 2012, 11:08AM
        • The tackle was fine and he should have got off. Queenslanders need to get over it. Sooks!

          Great call
          Date and time
          May 22, 2012, 11:09AM
          • Just ridiculous. Where is the consistency? Digby gets 5 weeks and Hooper none. Hooper's tackle was worse!!

            SANZAR are so stupid.

            Date and time
            May 22, 2012, 11:18AM
            • Just because the result isn't what you wanted doesn't make SANZAR stupid.

              Date and time
              May 22, 2012, 2:55PM
          • @geoffvw4567, You say Jonkers is a better ref? Must be joking. If it wasn't for him the Brumbies would have the Aussie conference wrapped up already!! Refer to his performance in Pretoria where the Brumbies scored 5 tries to 2 and he missed an obvious knock on that lead to a Bulls try! He is rubbish like a lot of other embarrasing refs this year!

            Brumby Pete
            Date and time
            May 22, 2012, 11:37AM

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