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'Reckless from my old mate, Eben, you could see it was head loss'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images)

RugbyPass Offload duo Ryan Wilson and Max Lahiff have become the latest to pass judgement on the massively debated Eben Etzebeth ruck clearout on Davit Niniashvili in last Friday night’s Challenge Cup final between Toulon and Lyon. 


The Georgian 19-year-old winger had just dumped the Springboks World Cup winner on his backside in a 72nd-minute tackle on the ten-metre line when he got up and chased back as the attack continued.

Having then taken down Toulon winger Cheslin Kolbe on the 22, Niniashvili found himself on the ground after the tackle and Etzebeth arrived to clear him out in a way that divided opinion on social media in the aftermath.

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Etzebeth escaped censure at the time from referee Luke Pearce and the incident didn’t subsequently result in a citing. However, Scotland and Glasgow back-rower Wilson and Bristol prop Lahiff have now given their verdict on the incident, branking what the South African did as reckless. Here is how their conversation unfolded on the latest RugbyPass Offload:

Lahiff: He dumps Eben and then Eben lost his head and tried to slot him. He is not even over the ball. He has cleaned him. That is a naughty boy step, that one. 


Wilson: I agree. You can’t really see it from the camera angles but he has whacked shoulder to head so it is a yellow card. 


Lahiff: He is not even on his feet. 

Wilson: Yeah, but hold on, the problem is sometimes with these new laws that if the refs aren’t reffing, you know when that tackler has got to roll away straight away and they get in the way, it probably wasn’t a trend during the game but sometimes you have to deal with that yourself and get them out of the way if they are on the wrong side. Like if he had stood up you can belt him. Even if he is just getting up you can belt him. But I agree, you could see it was head loss and it was reckless and he did hit him in the head. By the way, how did he [Niniashvili] stay on the field?

Lahiff:  That Georgian skull. 

Wilson: He was sparkoed, wasn’t he? 


Lahiff: That’s pretty unacceptable. I think there was a head gone moment where he was dump tackled by a winger and then he has tried to get his own back and he has gone red, he has gone to the dark side there. 

Wilson: I agree. It wasn’t right. I just think the refs have to ref those players out of the way sometimes. This was probably a different instance as he didn’t even have time to get back to his feet or roll, he just got maimed. Reckless from my old mate, Eben.  


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