Gloucester’s Chris Harris has hit out at officials over a tackle which went unpunished despite him needing a head injury assessment.
The Scotland centre was forced off late on in the Cherry and Whites’ defeat to Sale after Daniel du Preez blindsided him with a head-high tackle as Harris was already dropping to the floor after an initial tackle.
Harris rightly left the field to follow brain injury protocols, but remarkably no action was taken against du Preez by referee Karl Dickson or the TMO.
The 30-year-old No. 13 was hauled off in the 75th minute of the game, appearing visibly frustrated.
During replays of the incident on BT Sport, an official – although not shown on camera, so therefore unidentifiable – can be heard apparently saying: “Unfortunately, we can’t look at it now, can we.”
After the match, Harris himself took to social media to express his frustration at the lack of punishment for the illegal hit.
Quote tweeting a video of the tackle, Harris wrote: “Frustrated that I was pulled off for a HIA at a crucial point in the game and time was not taken out to review the incident.
“If TMO doesn’t think there was contact on the head how is it fair to take me off for an assessment? So inconsistent.”
Former England star Ugo Monye, commentating for BT Sport, said: “If a player’s going off for a HIA, it requires being looked at.
“In fact, it was looked at, but it was dismissed. My take on it was, I thought we could have potentially seen a card in that incident.”
Asked again if he was surprised the TMO didn’t progress things further, Monye said: “100%. Why do we contradict ourselves in rugby forever when we talk about looking after player welfare, protecting players’ heads, and concussion, but that [incident] is nothing?
“The shoulder’s made contact with the head. People at home will say Harris is falling. Absolutely right. However, you lose all mitigation when your action’s illegal. It’s an illegal action. He’s just showing one arm, which isn’t a complete tackle.
“When his shoulder then makes contact with Chris Harris’ head, you need to see some repercussion off it.
“It’s not me trying to get a player sent off the pitch, but this is the law and those are the conversations we keep having about protecting players’ heads but when we get opportunities to do that, we don’t.”
Gloucester head coach George Skivington also expressed his unhappiness with the lack of a decision post-match.
“Chris Harris getting taken off for a HIA when there’s a no-arms shoulder in the back of his head, I don’t know where the TMO is for that one,” he said.
“If we’re going to lose a player off the back of it, it would be nice just to have a look at it.
“If a player is going to be called in for a HIA, it would be nice to have a look at why there was a HIA. That’s frustrating, outside of what I can do.”
Former England and Northampton utility back Tom May said of du Preez: “Got Man of the Match but should have had a red. Not at any point was this going to be a safe tackle from what I can see.”
Brian Moore dubbed the challenge late and dangerous, writing on Twitter: “The tackle is completed before he makes contact. It is done as soon as the tackled player’s knee touches the floor. Thus, late and dangerous.”
Sale ran out 22-19 victors in the Gallagher Premiership clash at Kingsholm despite another try for newly-capped Welsh international Louis Rees-Zammit for the hosts.
The final minute of the game was marred by a melee which burst through the pitch-side barriers when centre Billy Twelvetrees shoved a water carrier out of the way, for which he was sin-binned.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk