Nick Cain: Thomson’s escape shows bias towards All Blacks

Adam Thompson stampingThe fawning towards all things All Black by the game’s officials goes on unabated with the latest example being the one-week ban given to Adam Thomson. The New Zealand blindside flanker had a dab at the head of his prone Scotland opposite number, Alasdair Strokosch, with his boot studs during last Sunday’s international at Murrayfield, having punched him a few seconds earlier after deciding that the Scot was killing the ball at a ruck.
Given the disciplinary yardstick used in the sendings off of England players I’ve witnessed in away Tests against New Zealand, namely Danny Grewcock in 1998 at Carisbrook and Simon Shaw in 2004 at Eden Park, Thomson’s was a stone-cold red card offence. Instead, he got his ban reduced from two weeks to one by the hopeless Six Nations disciplinary committee, chaired by France’s Jean-Noel Courand, with the ludicrous explanation that it rewarded his “good behaviour” at the hearing.
I disagreed strongly when Grewcock, whose toe-poke at Anton Oliver’s head after a collapsed scrum was every bit as tentative as Thomson’s, was dismissed by the showboating Aussie referee Wayne Erickson. There was a similar over-reaction with Shaw, when he was sent off for kneeing the provocative, and offside, All Black lock Keith Robinson, when the Welsh referee, Nigel Williams, took the advice of the Aussie touch-judge, Stuart Dickinson, to send off the England lock despite being 40 metres away from the incident.
If you take the Grewcock and Shaw sending-offs as precedents there is not a shadow of doubt that, in the interests of consistency and fairness of sentencing, Thomson should have been sent off.
The citing procedure should have resulted in at least the same five-week ban as Grewcock given that Thomson punched as well as kicked. He also escaped the massive sanction of New Zealand being reduced to 14-men whereas England’s dismissals, both first-half, cost them dearly.
Add Thomson’s let-off to the lenient treatment given to Keven Mealamu two years ago, when the All Black hooker’s flying head-butt on England captain Lewis Moody also resulted in a one-week ban for an offence which carries at least a four-week tariff, and the lack of consistency reeks of one law for the All Blacks and one for the rest.
What makes a mockery of the international disciplinary system is that while there is gross negligence in sentencing in one place, in another the full weight of the law is applied. Last week Thomson, already in line to be rested by the All Blacks against Italy this weekend, effectively got off scot-free, while the Wallaby lock Rob Simmons was given an eight-week ban for his tip-tackle on France’s Yannick Nyanga.
How is it that a Six Nations committee, which oversees disciplinary matters in the autumn internationals, can be so incompetent? Don’t they have a catalogue of disciplinary footage of similar transgressions available to them, with the sanctions applied in each instance?
This is a professional sport in which the big autumn internationals generate millions of pounds of income, and yet its disciplinary process is so inept it is like something from a Dad’s Army script – without the humour.
The volume of complaints on Twitter about the Thomson decision – many of them from coaches of schools and junior age-group teams – has led Brett Gosper, the IRB’s chief executive, to say they  will review the case. The sooner the better.
Meanwhile, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, the former Gloucester centre who was served with a three-week ban last year for post-match abuse of Saracens’ Owen Farrell, highlighted the disciplinary dog’s dinner when he posted the following message: “I got three weeks for sarcastic tweets. So had I just rucked Farrell’s head I would have got only a week?”

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