Reds relief as Tongan Thor escapes ban
FRONT-row weapon Taniela Tupou has had a lucky escape from his reckless tackle charge and is clear to play in two season-defining local derbies for the Queensland Reds.
The Reds' legal team argued strongly on Monday night that the jolt that landed "Tongan Thor" in hot water did not reach the red card threshold for a citing in the first place.
The SANZAAR judicial committee of chairman Robert Stelzner, Mike Mika and former Red David Croft agreed and prop Tupou escaped with a warning.
Tupou had been cited post-match for an offence rated at red card level for jolting Stormers winger Cameron Barry with a right shoulder and left-arm shove in Cape Town last weekend.
It means Tupou's running power, defence and 135kg influence at tighthead prop will be at large for the key derbies against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra (April 7) and the NSW Waratahs in Sydney (April 14).
After viewing all camera angles and considering a written statement from Barry, judicial committee chairman Stelzner said: "The level of offending did not breach the red card threshold yet warranted a warning.
"The judicial committee concluded that the player, while attempting to use his arms, failed to properly grasp his opponent in the tackle, which resulted in the point of contact being between the player's right shoulder and his opponent's upper chest area, causing the opponent to bounce off the player.
"An inadequate attempt to grasp his opponent immediately before the point of impact resulted in the action being reckless as to the consequences thereof."
Tupou's crude shove with the left hand, which never resembled a wrapping action, has saved him because it was judged a split-second before the shoulder contact.
While the Reds will rejoice at the let-off, a mirror should still be put up in their dressing room at Ballymore training to analyse their disciplinary record this season and last.
Last year was blighted by 13 yellow cards and the sending off of Quade Cooper for a high, poorly executed neck-wrapping tackle.
The Reds' positive progress this season to a 3-2 win-loss position has just one weeping sore that not even coach Brad Thorn seems prepared to directly address.
Tupou's case follows the three-game bans handed out to key forwards Scott Higginbotham and Lukhan Tui for tackle strife in the opening round, and the nonsense yellow yard on Caleb Timu for an invisible tackle illegality against the Brumbies.
Just to put it on record, reserve prop Sef Fa'agase will be the next yellow card victim for his dumb tackling style.
He was penalised for a shoulder torpedo at a Stormers player's ankles in Cape Town and also did it a second time without penalty.
There was no attempt to wrap his arms on either attempt and it is a style that referees have been put on notice to police.
The Reds can now enjoy a bye weekend and plan for the Brumbies match with Tupou in harness.