Hooper escapes heavy sanction

Michael Hooper has been issued an off-field yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Victor Vito and so will be available for the Brumbies’ next match.

The incident occurred in last Friday’s match between the Hurricanes and Brumbies. Hooper was subsequently cited and a Sanzar Judicial Hearing was held on Monday.

The Judicial Officer was assisted by video coverage supplemented by evidence and submissions for the player and evidence from the referee. He concluded that Hooper made an orthodox tackle around the knees but was driven back by the ball carrier who drove forward with his right leg raised high.

The referee was emphatic that the penalty was sufficient and reflected a lifting and losing control rather than a tipping or driving. The Judicial Officer considered the crux of the decision lay in whether Hooper lifted or tipped the ball carrier. The evidence did not establish a lift in the ordinary way but that Hooper did contribute to the tipping which partly rose from the destabilised position of the ball carrier in driving the tackler back with his right leg high.

The decision of the referee is to stand in his assessment of the incident as to the facts and gravity unless considered to be wrong. His position was clearly expressed. He found a breach but for slightly different reasons than the Judicial Officer.

The contribution to the tipping puts Hooper in breach but it was contributory only and otherwise arose from an orthodox tackle. He has an excellent disciplinary and off field record, and so an off-field yellow card is issued.