Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac, who will take charge of Wales after next year’s World Cup, believes sanctions to deal with dangerous play and protect players have “gone too far”.
Pivac was responding to the three week ban imposed on Samoa and Scarlets wing Kieron Fonotia for the way he dealt with Ospreys’ Wales wing George North, using an arm to fend off an opponent. The former police officer’s comments come as the game deals with numerous serious injuries and citings for alleged dangerous play from the first round of European matches.
“We’ve got to look after people’s heads, I totally agree, but I think we’ve gone too far and I’d like to see a balance,” Pivac told BBC Sport. “Away from the rugby field, if you go before the authorities for a physical act, they take into account the physical action and the intent. In rugby we don’t take into account the intent.
“The mid-section (of possible sanctions) is a serious amount of time out of the game for something which is totally accidental… I don’t think personally we’ve got this one right.”
The Scarlets coach is taking his own measures to try and avoid similar offences being punished and bans imposed by changing the way his players tackle in training. World Rugby have trialled a “nipple line” for the height of the tackle at U20 level and it will also be used in the Championship Cup in England next month.
“We’re spending a lot of time as coaches (on the issue), it is potentially changing the face of the game, body heights have to be lowered… but there’s an onus on both sides, attack and defence,” he added.
“We’ve changed the zones that we tackle in, we’re looking for a higher percentage in the lower range (on the body).
“I’ve lost a player for three weeks, it could have been six. I don’t have a budget where I can just go and replace players so I have to keep my players on the field.”
Fonita missed the Scarlets narrow opening round European Champions Cup defeat by Racing 92 and also sits out Friday night’s Pool clash with Leicester.
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