New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark expressed her disgust for the attacks on All Black captain Richie McCaw during Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup game.
Clark was in the crowd at Eden Park for the occasion, and so witnessed Phil Waugh’s robust handling of McCaw off the ball, as well as the infamous spear tackle by Lote Tuquiri. She has since spoken out, feeling these attacks to be more than just competitive aggression.
“One hesitates as just someone in the stand to voice an opinion, but certainly I felt someone should have been sent off,” she told New Zealand radio station NewstalkZB on Tuesday.
“I thought it was absolutely appalling. We witnessed several acts of assault against the All Blacks captain and it was very, very ugly to see.”
Despite these incidents (that went unseen by the on-field match officials), the game was a great contest. The All Blacks eventually won 34-27 and so secured the Vodacom Tri-Nations trophy for a successive year.
Wallabies coach John Connolly viewed Clark’s comments as some sort of joke.
“I think we were the ones with the bumps and bruises and the stitches,” he said on Monday. “She has to be kidding, this is a wind-up, this is a wind-up.”
When responding to the issue of Tuquiri’s tackle, which has resulted in the player being banned until November, he dodged by alluding to illegalities on the All Blacks’ part.
“I suppose I think we were horrified when we thought our guy might have been tipped upside down in the line out … this is a wind up, surely she has her tongue in her cheek,” he said.
Connolly has, however, made no move to appeal Tuquiri’s ban as of yet.
Clark is equally guilty of favouring her side of the Tasman. NZPA confirmed that when former All Black captain Tana Umaga ended Brian O’Driscoll’s British Lions tour last year with a similar tackle, she had no comment for the media.