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Juan Cruz Mallia suspended for 'reckless' charge down on Grant Williams

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Wikus de Wet/AFP via Getty Images)

Juan Cruz Mallia has been suspended for a charge down that resulted in the injury of Springbok scrumhalf Grant Williams.


The incident occurred in the opening moments of their Rugby Championship match at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg last weekend.

Cruz Mallia made a charge down, successfully blocking a right-footed kick by the South African halfback. However, his follow-through resulted in a dangerous collision, hitting Williams in the head with his hip. Despite a stoppage due to a South African infringement, referee Andrew Brace ruled that Mallia was committed to the collision after touching the ball, and therefore, it was not considered foul play.

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Following the match, Mallia was cited and subsequently found guilty of contravening Law 9.11, which states that players must not engage in anything reckless or dangerous that could harm others. The case was assessed by the SANZAAR Judicial Committee, led by Chairman Nigel Hampton KC, alongside David Croft and Ofisa Tonu’u.

After a detailed review of all available evidence, including multiple camera angles and additional statements from the player, the Argentinian coach, and the match referee, the Judicial Committee upheld the citing under Law 9.11.

In his ruling, Chairman Nigel Hampton KC stated that the act of foul play was reckless and carried a high degree of danger, resulting in a considerable impact on the victim player. The Committee took into account all relevant factors from World Rugby’s Head Contact Process and sanctioning table. However, they also considered the evidence presented by both the referee and the coach, regarding the view of match officials on charge downs and coaching practices related to such actions.

Ultimately, the Committee decided that imposing a mid-range sanction would be disproportionate to the player’s fault, leading them to settle on a low-range entry point of two weeks’ suspension. As a result, Juan Cruz Mallia has been suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 18 August 2023.


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Jon 314 days ago

What a lottery the rugby judiciary is. Not the people, but the laws, the process, and purpose.

It's an unprofessional sport that rules on outcome.

They have said the player did something wrong, but not said how. So if he had not made contact with the head, we are lead to believe the player would not have done something wrong. This is very inconsistent, solely because the purpose of the judiciary is to lay the blame for such accidents on the player, rather than the sport or it's laws (for the purpose to avoid criminal action against itself).

What was the practice taken in this instance? That Williams kick trajectory is higher and that you need to leap on the charge down? That his alignment and kicking direction are all in line together, so that you need to charge down in the line of the player? WR simply need to outlaw whatever it is, attempts must have feet on the ground or line must not be in the direct of the player NOT sanction depending of the high of the kicker and whether his head is 5"5 or 6"5 and makes contact or not.

I take it this would be the outcome if Williams was also waiting to receive the ball from a kick, and Cruz Mallia jumped above him and caught it instead? Or have we already seen this ruling? There is no difference.

WR is a joke and need to up their game and get rid of their amateur mindset when it comes to the laws and how they are allowed to be interpreted.

Johnny 314 days ago

What about referee 2weeks of intensive training on how to apply the law.

Robert 314 days ago

Only 2 weeks‽

Flankly 315 days ago

Good call. We can debate the extent of the ban but at least it is great to hear that they are taking this stuff seriously.

So head coaches can stop practicing the new take-out-the-half-back-in-the-first-ten-seconds strategy. It turns out it is illegal to do that, after all.

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