Ross Moriarty four week suspension could have been much worse

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Ross Moriarty four week suspension could have been worse
Ross Moriarty of Wales and Nicholas Sanchez of Argentina scuffle on the ground during the International Test Match between Argentina and Wales at the Brigadier Estanislao Lopez Stadium, on June 16, 2018 in Sante Fe, Argentina. (Photo by Javier Escobar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In light of the news this week, that Wales rugby International Ross Moriarty was handed a four week suspension by World Rugby, the reality is – it could have been much worse.

The act of choking a player; which Moriarty was seen to do at the end of the second test between Argentina and Wales last Saturday, is not a good look. It was beamed around the rugby world, with many seeing it as a ‘violent act’. Now, since the Independent Judicial Committee regarded Moriarty’s offence to be at the mid-range scale of seriousness, you wonder ‘is it a good look for rugby?’

While the footage below showed him holding Nicolas Sanchez around the neck (after an off-the-ball push) it was the fact he continued the action which some question most. Players are often told, the retaliation is almost always seen as the act punishable by officials. And worst of all, ignoring the command of an assistant referee was blatant disregard.

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But while apparently violent, the considerations by World Rugby merited the players guilty plea and previous good record. Something he can be extremely lucky to have had – as so many sports clamp down hard on acts of aggression and incidents that put the game into disrepute.

Ross Moriarty four week suspension could have been much worse

The penalty has a minimum and maximum level of sanction. The entry level was a six week ban. And then further sanction was considered, because despite being told to let go by the match officials, Ross Moriarty continued to intimidate the Argentinian player. During the scuffle, Moriarty carries on the action, before a Los Pumas player pulls him off of Sanchez.

South African referee Jaco Peyper was irate at the actions, ordering the player from the field. So for those actions, the Welsh player could have been sitting on the sidelines for as many as seven weeks.

The committee found him guilty of an act of foul play contrary to law 9.11 (grasping an opponent around the neck). It also recognised the players remorse immediately after the game – Moriarty and the Wales Rugby Football Union apologising to Sanchez and to Argentina Rugby – and for his record. So the maximum of seven weeks was reduced, to four weeks only.

The reduction is a common consideration in sports, as well as the players personal mea culpa. But in the eyes of the world, Moriarty might now be seen as a player with a trigger point. It will be a weakness that other players could look to exploit, and will be an unwanted piece of footage that Wales and World Rugby will not want repeated.

Suspension will affect Ross Moriarty in Pro14 debut season

That ruling will mean that the former-Gloucester player will be punished over his Pro14 term with the Dragons. So will directly affect pre-season matches, and the opening match of the 2018/19 Guinness Pro14 season.

The BBC reported that Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman says he he would have liked Moriarty available for the pre-season programme. “We would have liked to have him a bit earlier for those pre-season friendly games so it is not ideal.

“I did not think there was that much in the incident. He was trying to protect himself after being attacked firstly and I thought he showed good restraint. It is done now and he has apologised for it.”

So the repercussion may only affect one professional game of rugby….and that leads to the question – why; if the act was made during an International match, isn’t the penalty effective for an International ban?

Ross Moriarty four week ban takes in pre-season matches

Many players who have received punishment during International test matches, find that it applies then to their domestic/Celtic league fixtures. So while the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 calendar has not been distributed, based on Moriarty’s playing schedule, the four weeks will include pre-season matches and one domestic fixture.

Like others, including Sonny Bill Williams, the penalty applied during a full International game, affect a club game. The disparity can be both a curse – for the club/franchise – and a blessing for country. So Moriarty and Williams, are not punished in equivalent fixtures to what their red cards were applied to.

And while the argument for a two-tier class of discipline [one for International bans and one domestic bans] may have supporters and doubters, what is clear is that the ‘actions on the field’ lead to players being identified for their failings in an test match, might then impose on club responsibilities.

In fact, consider his clubs sides singular [to be confirmed] loss, then he might well be relieved, as the four week suspension could have been much worse!

Side Note – Moriarty reacts badly on Social Media

Sports people have to accept much criticism, as well as praise. So after this incident, sectors of the rugby public turned on Ross Moriarty. But it was his reaction which caught many by surprise.

“I appreciate the hate messages… when you hide behind your keyboard you maggots”, he wrote on his Instagram account.

Possibly the professional rugby player would have been better to heed advice, and not turn a blind eye. It could – like his poor sportsmanship at the end of the Argentina v Wales test match – be seen as a weakness which might be his failing in future Tests. And lucky not to serve a more severe penalty, considering the maximum penalty was seven weeks.

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