While there’ll be some vindication that Blues replacement hooker Kurt Eklund has been handed a ban for an illegal tackle on Crusaders wing Sevu Reece, the post-match punishment is just another example of referees not making the best decisions during matches.
Fresh from a Blues’ try, scored by Eklund, Reece leapt into the air from the Crusaders’ kick-off and clattered into Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu, sending him sprawling to the ground.
Eklund took offence to the dangerous play – which was penalised by referee Paul Williams, and grabbed Reece by the torso and flipped him over his shoulder. Reece emerged relatively unscathed from the tackle – although spent a prolonged period on the ground afterwards – and Williams reversed the penalty.
That was the end of the matter, however, with Eklund just given a warning for the dangerous indiscretion.
Following the match, which the Crusaders won 43-27, Eklund was cited for the tackle and has now been handed a three-match ban, which will see him miss games against the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
Eklund out here suplexing people ?
— StanSportAU (@StanSportAU) March 21, 2021
Eklund will next be available for selection in the return fixture with the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on April 25.
The hooker isn’t the only Blues player in hot water, however, with prop Ofa Tuungafasi also set to face the judiciary this week. Tuungafasi, who was brought off the bench in the loss to the Crusaders, made a dangerous clearout late in the match and was given a yellow card for the offence.
The SANZAAR Judicial Committee believes that there were grounds for a red card, however, and Tuungafasi could be facing a similar stint on the sidelines as his teammate.
Notably, however, Eklund’s ban was reduced from six weeks to three due to his lack of prior convictions and early guilty plea. Tuungafasi, on the other hand, was sent off during a Bledisloe Cup match last year – which could harm his case.
While the Blues are well covered at prop, Eklund’s absence could force coach Leon MacDonald to call up an extra player to the squad, with Luteru Tolai now the only hooker available for selection.
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