With the hellacious move into my new place finally just complete and my column due but having not a clue what to write about, I turned to one of my favorite forums, PlanetRugby.com’s, and found a subject that peaked my interest: What are rugby’s most controversial moments? Forr me, though, Controversy is tough too subjective but what’s Notorious is another story. With that, here are my three Most Notorious Moments Of Pro Era Rugby:
Wayne Barnes & The Forward Pass: Though this might sound like a children’s book or some type of How To Date pamphlet, it is more infamously known as THE (long “e”) forward pass because there has been no more critical forward pass allowed in the pro era of rugby. France versus New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 2007. More crucial than Dan Carter’s injury, than the yellow card given to Luke McAllister, was the forward pass. Barnes fell asleep on his watch and France took the lead and went on to win the game. My colleague Cody Kuxxman will tell you that Refs are human beings and they don’t’ catch everything. This is true, but rarely do their mistakes loom as large as this one did.
Umanga & Mealamu Injuring Brian O’Driscoll: This was the clear-out that shook the world. Tana Umanga and Kevin Mealamu, the All Blacks’ world class Outside Center and Hooker, respectively, ended Ireland’s and British & Irish Lions Outside Center and legend Brian O’Driscoll 2005 Lions tour. You ask Kiwi’s and they say it was much ado about nothing. You ask the Irish and it was a failed assassination attempt on one of rugby’s greatest players ever. After review and analysis, it is clear that in the clear-out Umanga and Mealamu both lifted O’Driscoll and had him more the parallel to the ground before dropping him. As it was a clear-out and not a tackle, it was not a spear tackle, plus spear tackle laws hadn’t gone to the RWC 2011 level yet. To this day, the two great Outside centers agree to disagree.
Duncan McRae’s Assault On Ronan O’Gara: Prior to the assassination attempt on O’Driscoll, this assault on O’Gara was the most shocking moment in British & Irish Lions Tour history. It took place on the 2001 tour against the New South Wales Waratahs in Austraila. The term assault is the best way to describe the attack; if it was in the Isles it would be an Attempt to Cause Grievous Bodily Harm. The Fly-halves had exchanges some words – nothing out of nature for a heated match – when McRae lost it on O’Gara and tackled him without the ball and threw 11-15 punches on the the defenseless O’Gara. McRae was red-carded and served a 7-week ban. (That was the length of IRB punishments 10 years ago -today he may have gotten 7 months). McRae then left Australia for a career in Europe, but this incident ruined his chances of being a Wallabie, and his name was forever sullied.
There are my choices. I’m sure there are those of you, like my fellow RWU contributor Kevin Fegan, who will go on about how this proves the Irish are picked on because… Well, the Irish love to talk about how they are picked on. But remember… in order for something to be Notorious there must be a bad guy/girl, so please give me the bad guy/girl in your scenario. That way, I can be the bad guy and tell you that you are wrong.
Until next week, I will see you in the Comments ruggers.