View Full Version : The Grewcock Biting Incident - who's at fault?

26-06-05, 13:06
Biting - despicable, bannable offence, no question about it. If I catch someone doing it on the pitch, they get a straight red. If someone is caught via a post-match citing, they deserve a ban. However, the following quote from the BBC coverage of the hearing got me thinking:

"The judicial officer accepted that Mealamu's fingers inadvertently entered Grewcock's mouth at the breakdown," said an International Rugby Board statement.

"But rather than removing the fingers in a more conventional way, Grewcock bit Mealamu's right ring finger, and accordingly he found that the player was guilty of biting."

How do one's fingers "inadvertently enter" an opponent's mouth? This raises questions about what Mealamu was trying achieve. Firstly, if his hand was that close to Grewcock's mouth in the first place, was it as a result of a high-tackle? Secondly (and more probably), I suspect there was nothing "inadvertent" about the presence of said digits in said buccal cavity, and Mealamu was in fact attempting to cause Grewcock serious discomfort by, eg., pulling at his mouth/cheeks etc. In which case "more conventional methods" of finger-removal aren't your instinctive first port-of-call, are they?

I suspect Mealamu is far from blameless in this incident, but the tapes could never prove as such. I look forward to your input...

Simon Griffiths
26-06-05, 15:06
Given that they cleared both NZ players of offences (i.e. dislocating a shoulder with a combination of hurling someone over their shoulders and then stamping on him) I find it difficult to believe that Mealamu has not received some-sort of ban either, given that he was involved in the first incident.

I have to agree with what you say, I find it exceptionally hard to believe that a player's fingers get into such a small opening.

Mind boggling, sadly I haven't seen the incident so can't judge accordingly. But I do agree that biting should be punished - but look at mitigating circumstances.

27-06-05, 00:06
They did indeed look at mitigating circumstances. The standard ban is 12 months with a range of 6 to 24 months. 2 months is lenient.

I suspect Mealamu's fingers got into Grewcock's mouth in the same way as Grewcock's foot came into contact with Dwayne Peel's face: as a consequence of trying to do something else.

I did not see the O'Driscoll tackle in quite the same way. They lifted him up but I could not see them hurl him over their shoulders, nor did I see stamping. Mind you it was very difficult to see much at all.

AIUI, the citing officer (not "they") decided not to proceed, though the impression from Woodward's comments is that he dismised it out of hand. Maybe there is better footage around somewhere - Woodward has his own filming done, I believe.

27-06-05, 02:06
Has no one seen an inadvertant finger in eye/face/mouth before? I know from my playing days that it happens. Grewcock has a poordiscipline record, Mealamu and Umaga do not - in fact Umaga won a Pierre de Coubertin medal for fairplay in sport 2 years ago for his actions on the pitch.

I sense a great swindle being performed by Woodward - trying to divert our attention away from the actual game. Lets look at the facts: his team got smashed all over the field, and more importantly on the scoreboard. We've heard constant yap from those north of the equator about how in NZ forward play is non-existent. Hmmmm, I wonder if NZers are so poor in the forwards, then what the heck are the Lions? Scrums, rucks, lineouts were completely dominated by the All Blacks, and in conditions that were supposed to favour the Lions.

Woodward has tried to highlight everything but the fact that his team was outplayed, and he was outcoached. Things were already unravelling when he didn't pick Henson, and went with his 'boys' instead of form players.

27-06-05, 12:06
I feel that SCW knows his selection was crap. but as for the foul play incident past incidents have shown that SH officals tend to over look video footage was not an All Black shown to stamp on the head of an England player a few years back and yet no action taken.
Right or wrong to dump a player head first is bang out of order and for 2 players to do it in the heat of a game can look like it was part of a game plan, by this i mean target key players. As O' said durying an interview after his return from Hospital not one All Black had checked to see if he was ok as he was taken off the field, and he felt it was foul play. As for Grewcock biting was the finger trying to do damage to the lips/split the mouth or was this another cheap shot that just happened and the player got more than he asked for in return. The game is hard things happen as do accidents ,foul play by who ever should be dealt with fair and square and punished.
The fact that this was in such a high profile game i wonder how long before we see this type of tackle being tried by local clubs and god forbid Jnr players. With out the benefit of Video or TJ it is us who have to deal with it!!!
set the example at the top and show that you do this you get caught you pay the price, as we all know the day we pick up this offence and deal with it some one will say i saw it during this game and it was ok then your wrong ref etc.
Just my point and no not a whinging pom
A keen rugby fan who loves the great game played by all

27-06-05, 13:06
Woodward has tried to highlight everything but the fact that his team was outplayed, and he was outcoached.You are exaggerating. At the post match interview he made a point of saying that they got beaten by the beetter team.

At a news conference, he was asked about the issue and naturally answered fairly forcefully. However he also said that he was not assserting that the players were guilty, just that the citing regulations neeed re-visiting. Having to complete the initial review within 12 hours when a match finishes in the late evening does indeed seem odd. He obviously felt that the incident had simply been dismissed rather casually as a consequence.

On balance I tend to agree with the citing officer, although such footage as I have seen is poor. There did not seem to be enough evidence to establish intent, and if there were no grounds for arguing a ban, there is no point in a disciplinary hearing.

I felt it was certainly worth a penalty, and perhaps a yellow card for reckless illegality. I have no idea what the TJ was doing - he stepped into the field of play as if he had seen it, but apparently said nothing..

Nobody is disputing that the ABs were superb and the Lions poor. However the media prefer a dispute, so the O'Driscoll incident gets the headlines.

Personally I find it is fuel for my argument that "clearing out" at a ruck is illegal, and should be stopped. You are almost certainly offside, and are definitely playing a player without the ball. It also tends to lead to punch-ups and injuries.

28-06-05, 00:06
Gotta agree with OB here....watching the clearing out in a game you referee is a bit unnerving...looking for offsides and foul play is not a nice thing to do...however, it is part and parcel of the big games, in particular the international games....

The Lions of 2001 were classed as the best team ever at the clean out...they did it in 2 or 3 player shields to clear out the opposition, and they were v ery hard to win ball against...their technique was superb....and yes, it did lead to injury, to Jeremy Paul, the Australian hooker who got hit on the side of a ruck by Grewcock and sustained a serious knee injury. My view is that O'Driscoll was making a nuisance of himself trying to slow down the ball and got cleaned out by 2 all blacks who tried to do it in the "plane taking off" manner...with momentum and position their way, O'Driscoll got lifted, but he was not taken to ground, they let him go once airborne and he landed in a bad way....I could not see any of the AB players landing on him, which meant the push had discontinued. I watched the footage again this morning with fellow refs and we all agreed it was just unfortunate how he landed, he is an excellent player and a great loss for the Lions.

But also, SCW has made a name for himself everywhere he goes, and he is openly despised...so as far as the public is concerned, he will be just seen as someone who is trying to detract attention from the defeat for the next week or so by continuing to point out the fact that nobody got penalised for this, as if O'Driscoll could have won the game for the Lions.

28-06-05, 19:06
as if O'Driscoll could have won the game for the Lions.

... but we'll never know ...

;-) <--------- mandatory


28-06-05, 21:06
My view is that O'Driscoll was making a nuisance of himself trying to slow down the ball and got cleaned out by 2 all blacks Since the ball had already gone, I claim it is impossible to argue that. He was doing "guard" duty at one side of the ruck, and the ball went the other way.

Cleaning out is of dubious legality. The players went past the back feet of the (ex-)ruck. Offside? They were clearly playing a man without the ball. You can only join a ruck legally by binding on to a team-mate, not an opponent.

Nevertheless I am well aware that this sort of action is often condoned at top levels. In this case they overstepped the mark far enough for the TJ (Andrew Cole) to come on to the field. According to the Times report, he shouted "Leave him alone, the ball has gone". I have no idea why he decided not to flag the incident.

The action of the citing officier was also open to criticism. Apparently he made his decision and left for home, refusing to give any kind of explanation to the Lions.

As it happens, I think he probably got the decision right, but it was very badly handled.