Where to start.......think The word inconsistent is probably the best way forward.
Bath against Tigers is always a fraught affair and is steeped in history. For two clubs who were so hotly contested as the biggest clubs around for a lengthy period an animosity grew and became grudge fixtures, that still is the case and always will be. The latest episode still leads us that way, as It's safe to say the game didn't go to plan. Up to the point where François Louw was issued his marching order Bath had a strong opportunity to win the fixture at Welford Road and take a large scalp on their journey back up the table. Unfortunately this did not come to pass as it appeared Louw's red card saw a collapse of what was turning out to be a good bout between two giants. The decision for Louw's red came from the touch judge as opposed to Mr wigglesworth who was officiating the tie. As we all know everybody is human and mistakes happen and every referee has a bad day at the office, to reduce the impact of these errors we now are graced with TMO to aid the officials. With a lot of regret this combination failed in this instance, where it appeared even the Leicester faithful were in charge. A game that descended into chaos leading to three red cards and three yellow in not an advert the Aviva premiership or RFU would relish.
So how do the RFU resolve this almost farcical fixture? By selecting key infringements and citing the players involved. Or picking some players and citing them, yep that's right the go for the latter!!
From Bath Louw (red) for dropping an elbow, Mears for a punch and Banahan (red) for a high dangerous tackle. Deacon (red) from tigers was pulled in for a punch. No Murphy and Kitchener from Tigers or Donald from Bath all were seen to be involved in the incidents, Donald even receiving a yellow for a punch. So stage one of the RFU's inconsistent citing committee is complete, now on for stage two.
Joining the players from the Bath v Tigers game was Chris Hala'Ufia from London Irish who also received a red for a tip tackle against their fellow exiles London Welsh. Hala'Ufia plead not guilty but gained himself a five week ban, showing this panel were in no lenient mood. Deacon was up first and plead guilty for punching Banahan after his high tackle on Allen, Deacon who already has been hit by a one week ban by Tigers was given the same punishment by the panel.
Next up it was the time for the Bath boys to stand in the dock, Que the next bout of inconsistencies. Banahan plead guilty to a high dangerous tackle and rendering Allen unconscious, an unintentionally high tackle but regardless still high, he received a three week ban. Mears also to the guilty plea for a punch and gained himself a two week ban. Louw was the more interesting as he had his card expunged and no further action to follow.
If to dissect and compare these punishments is where we really see the true inconsistent manner in which the RFU are administering their sanctions.
Mears, Deacon and Donald all landed a punch in the game. Mears two weeks, Deacon one week and Donald left just with his yellow card. Regardless of intent a punch is a punch and equal punishments should be administered, more punches obviously then harsher sanctions, but one punch all punish equally.
Banahan admitted the tackle although Allen ducked into it and Deacon left him slightly unsighted, still accepted what was to come. My issue with this comes from the punishment given to Andy Powell from his trip to the Rec with sale raise this season. Powell hit Day around the neck and earned a quick ten minutes on the naughty step, Powell wasn't so gracious on leaving the field delivering a hand gesture and expletives directed at the booing crowd. So what did Powell get punished for? He was issued no ban for the tackle or reaction to the supporters but given a £5000 fine. Powell was ordered to pay £1000 upfront and the remainder at the end of the season. Not only does a ban punish a player it punishes a club, a fine punishes the player only!!
Louw's red card many would say was the turning point of the game, dropping a team by a player puts extra strain upon the rest of the players. With Louw having his card expunged it leads to the officials having inconclusive evidence against him therefore wrong decision was made, sadly a decision that changed the game but cannot be reversed.
My own personal view is the RFU need to have set sanctions as to administrating loosely based guidelines. A long hard look by the powers that be in the RFU is certainly required, as we all know the IRB need to do similarly regarding the All Black allegedly leniency!
Time for a shake up!!