Nonu call confuses O'Sullivan
By Ben Blackmore. Last Updated: November 18, 2005 5:05pm
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has warned that the game is in danger of being thrown into total confusion over the understanding and importance of the rules.
After All Black centre Ma'a Nonu followed the example of teammates Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu by going unpunished for a spear tackle on an Irishman (Gordon D'Arcy), O'Sullivan admitted that he is confused about what to tell his players.
"If you look at it in that context it's hard to know what to tell the players. Both myself and Graham Henry said after the match it was not something we want to see but you wonder what players will take out of it now that nothing has happened," stressed the Ireland coach.
Nonu was called in front of an IRB disciplinary board after his challenge on D'Arcy, but the hearing concluded that there was no clear evidence to suggest that he had driven the player's head towards the ground.
The incident came little over four months after Brian O'Driscoll's Lions tour was ended by a similar tackle, which dislocated the talented centre's shoulder.
O'Sullivan insists it is these kind of moments that need to be stamped out of the game, ahead of the indiscretions that merely lessen the game as a spectacle - such as killing the ball.
"Like most people I'm confused. At the moment it seems the penalty for killing the ball at a ruck, which is a yellow card, is harsher than for turning a player upside down and dropping him on his head.
"I'm not being smart but there is confusion between what we were told at the start of the season and what's transpired. I'd rather not say what the punishment should have been because I don't want to be judgmental.
"All I can say is that we're sending out a mixed message. I thought we understood you should not turn someone upside down on the rugby pitch. Now because of the Nonu case I think most people are confused."