Tackle on Kolisi an ‘act of cowardly thuggery’

New Zealand-based writer Mark Reason has suggested that some of the Hurricanes’ tackling in the opening game against the Stormers was ‘grotesque’.

One of the main talking points from that Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Newlands was the off-the-ball tackle on Siya Kolisi, which is set to sideline the Stormers and Bok skipper for several weeks.

Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli is said to have apologised for the incident after the game, but when reflecting on the injury, Kolisi also admitted that he hadn’t expected to be hit in the tackle as he’d already passed the ball.

Stormers coach John Dobson was also fuming in the following days.

‘I thought that was a mean-spirited game,’ he said. ‘That was not good for the tournament going forward. It had nothing to do with the referee. It was very subtle stuff. But when we reviewed the game a few times, we got more and more angry.

‘I think Pieter-Steph went through quite a hard time. There was one movement where Seabelo’s hair was pulled twice. We were not happy with that game at all, we weren’t happy with lots of stuff that happened on the field.

‘If this becomes the general trend of the competition, then I would be very worried,’ Dobson added. ‘It was disappointing. If you have a Pieter-Steph du Toit who is World Player of the Year and the way of dealing with him is cheap shots, then it is a problem.’

It was a view that also seemed to be held by Reason in an opinion piece on Stuff.co.nz.

‘The worst hit was the “tackle” of Ricky Riccitelli on Siya Kolisi. It was an act of cowardly thuggery. The Springboks captain had already long passed the ball when the Hurricanes hooker blindsided him with a shoulder into the knee. It was ridiculously late and has put the Springboks captain out of the game for around six weeks.

‘Riccitelli did not even look at Kolisi, an icon of the game, as he was helped off the pitch. And to rugby’s shame, nothing has subsequently been done about it. We need sanctions for this sort of thing. Why should the victims, the Stormers and Kolisi, suffer, but the thugs escape unpunished.

‘You would have liked to think that the Hurricanes coaching staff would have publicly apologised after the game for this and many other cheap shots their players perpetrated. But we know what happens when New Zealand rugby is criticised. They jump into the sand pit and go into the denial mode of a small child.’

You can read the full scathing column here

Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images