Citation circus
By Iain Morrison
October 13, 1999

Well that's clear then. Next time Roberto Grau causes the red mist to descend upon the red shirt of Colin Charvis the Welsh flanker will simply headbutt his protagonist rather than throw several of the most ineffectual punches ever seen since Joe Bugner retired from the "fight"
Astonishingly the three-man disciplinary tribunal decided yesterday that Mariba Vunibaka should suffer no further sanction after headbutting Canadian centre Kyle Nichols. The red card he was shown by respected referee Ed Morrison was deemed sufficient punishment. Vunibaka was provoked, but so too was Charvis. Vunibaka's headbutt was an ineffectual effort, but I doubt Grau even noticed Charvis' retaliation. Anyway the judges are handing out penalties for intent, rather than the ability, or lack of it, to inflict damage.
To add insult to Toutai Kefu and Trevor Brennan's injuries, those two were sidelined for two games apiece for their "wee bit argy bargy" during the bad-tempered encounter at Landsdowne Road. Should they conclude that a headbutt is considered less of a crime than a punch? It certainly brings a whole new meaning to the coaches' phrase, "use your
Taumalolo and Charvis both had appeals rejected yesterday although the islanders must reason that their reputation counts against them as the tackle that Scotland's Martin Leslie produced on Uruguay's fullback Alfonso Cardoso was as ugly as any challenge by the pacific islanders to date. Even the double-whammy on Argentinean prop Reggiardo early in the Western Samoan match pales in comparison to the kilted Kiwis' head hunting exploits. Leslie was not cited.
All too often rugby union closes ranks and protects those guilty of violence in a way that league simply does not tolerate. However if they authorities are going to pursue a hard line they have to announce it beforehand and then pursue it in an even-handed and consistent manner. The disciplinary procedure during this tournament has varied from extreme sanction to turning a blind eye altogether at violence on the pitch. The ground it has yet to occupy is the considered consistency in
the middle.

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