Ardie Savea in hot water for again breaching collective agreement
For the third time in his professional career, Ardie Savea will have the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association pulling their hair out over the All Blacks flanker failing to comply with the players’ collective agreement.
While Savea’s performance in his return to action against Fiji was commendable, scoring a try and topping NZ’s tackle figures, the 28-year-old loose forward appeared to play much of the match without a mouthguard.
Mouthguards aren’t a mandatory piece of equipment according to World Rugby’s laws, but they are required to be worn under the NZRPA collective agreement.
After not wearing one in a Tri-Nations game against Australia last year, Chris Lendrum, NZR’s general manager of professional rugby and performance, said it was disappointing that Savea wasn’t abiding by the agreement.
“We expect our professional players to set the standard and role model for all of our players in the community and their whanau,” Lendrum told Stuff.
“We have obviously already raised this issue in recent times with the All Blacks and with our Super Rugby teams and Mitre 10 Cup teams, so we will do that again, and we will have to do that pretty seriously if we have got repeat offenders.”
Back in 2013, Savea was reprimanded in-match by referee Nick Briant for failing to wear a mouthguard in a provincial game between Wellington and Canterbury.
Savea, just 19 at the time, indicated he wasn’t aware of the requirements but would get a special mouthguard fitted due to breathing issues that prevented him from wearing a standard-issue mouthguard.
“I know the refs are going to start enforcing it from now on, so I will be getting one fitted ASAP,” he said.
“That was bad on my behalf. It is a good thing they are cracking down and forcing the players to wear one. It is not a good example for young players to follow.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 18, 2021
After last year’s breach, Savea again said he would start wearing a mouthguard, suggesting that he’d learnt “a hard lesson” about “integrity”. He sported one for the remaining test matches of 2020, as well as throughout this year’s Super Rugby campaign with the Hurricanes.
For one reason or another, however, Savea went without in last night’s win over Fiji – but coach Ian Foster didn’t know the circumstances around the decision, or that Savea hadn’t been wearing a guard in the first place.
“I wasn’t aware,” Foster told media on Sunday. “I’ll have a look at it. I’m aware that he hasn’t worn it at times before, I know he’s had issues breathing with them and he’s struggled at certain times.
“I’ll go and check in and see what happened there, because, to be fair, that’s news to me.”
Having spent the last month on ice after re-injuring his knee in the Hurricanes’ final game of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season, Savea made his return for the All Blacks in last night’s 60-13 win over Fiji.
The All Blacks’ next fixture comes against the Wallabies in Auckland on August 7.
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