Thorn takes aim at 'soft' send-off
EXASPERATED Reds coach Brad Thorn has sided with former All Black Tony Brown in bemoaning rugby going soft in the wake of the ridiculous Ed Quirk send-off that will now waste the time of a Foul Play Review Committee.
What Super Rugby needs is an apology to fans, players and coaches from invisible SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos on behalf of the code that has let them down with overzealous nitpicking this season.
The chance of hearing anything from "Andy Who?" is remote, even after the call of pedantic Kiwi referee Ben O'Keeffe that has been condemned worldwide.
The official charge for Sunwolves flanker Quirk is "physical abuse" for leaning a tame, closed right fist on the cheek of Reds fly half Hamish Stewart from one centimetre away at the bottom of a ruck last Friday night.
A video-conference hook-up at 5pm on Sunday should expedite this fizzer, but Reds flanker Caleb Timu has far more to worry about after being cited for a reckless shoulder-and-head torpedo when trying to dislodge Hayden Parker from the ball on the ground.
Players are normally cautious with sweeping statements but Sunwolves captain Willie Britz knew he was speaking for rugby at large after Friday night was turned into a no-contest at the midpoint of a 48-27 loss at Suncorp Stadium.
"I've spoken to a lot of old players … the game's gone soft because you make a good, proper hit and you get a red card for it too," No.8 Britz said.
Sunwolves coach Brown, the former All Black, was dismayed at O'Keeffe's flawed on-field reasoning that he had "no other choice" with the clenched Quirk fist.
"The refs are almost looking to be in the media, being the guy that does it," Brown said.
" 'I've got no other option' … what a load of crap. It's just embarrassing."
Thorn's Queensland side has been guilty of poor tackling technique at times but not at the level of punishment dealt them. Most of the 10 yellow cards, and Scott Higginbotham's red card, have been for tackling offences.
"I'm the opposition coach and I'm saying this is no good. Seriously, man, it's hurting the game," Thorn said after the Quirk call.
"A loose forward (Quirk) gives a five-eighth a little facial … isn't that what you are supposed to do?
"My sons do it in the backyard and it's beautiful.
"I suspect I sound like a relic saying 'back in the day blah blah', but seriously this (with too many video review stoppages) is not good for footy."
Brown wondered openly where rugby is heading with such illogical red card calls.
"Every rugby player who has ever played the game is looking at that and saying it's not a red card," Brown said.
"I'm worried, 100 per cent (where refereeing is heading). It has just got bizarre.
"To me, the (Timu) yellow card where he's trying to kill a guy on the ground with his head and shoulders is quite dangerous, not a (Quirk) closed fist that was not even a punch."