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Tevita Kuridrani to miss Super Rugby AU qualifying final as one of three suspended Wallabies

By Alex McLeod
Australian centre Tevita Kuridrani wearing the Wallabies indigenous jersey. (Photo by Koki Nagahama / Getty Images)

Former Wallabies midfielder Tevita Kuridrani will miss this week’s Super Rugby AU qualifying final after being handed a three-week suspension for a dangerous tackle.

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Kuridrani started in the Western Force’s shock 30-27 victory over the previously unbeaten Queensland Reds at HBF Park in Perth on Friday, but was yellow carded in just the second minute of the match for a spear tackle on his opposite Hunter Paisami.

Lifting the six-test Australian international past the horizontal line, Kuridrani was cleared of a red card due to the fact that Paisami broke his fall with his hand, which prevented his head from hitting the ground first.

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However, that hasn’t saved Kuridrani from the SANZAAR foul play review committee, who deemed that he had contravened Law 9.18: A player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground.

As a result, the 61-test international, who hasn’t played for the Wallabies since the 2019 World Cup, has been banned for three weeks, with his early guilty plea and good judicial record preventing the committee from handing down a full six-week ban.

It means Kuridrani will miss the Force’s historic match against his former side, the Brumbies, in Canberra this Saturday as the Western Australian franchise partake in their first-ever play-off match in their history.

Furthermore, the 30-year-old will miss next week’s Super Rugby AU final – should the Force qualify for it – against the Reds in Brisbane and the following week’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash against the Chiefs in Perth.

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In the event the Force fail to qualify for the Super Rugby AU final, the SANZAAR foul play review committee has reserved the right to extend Kuridrani’s ban to the Force’s May 21 match against the Highlanders in Perth.

Kuridrani is one of three Wallabies to have been handed bans by SANZAAR following the latest round of Super Rugby AU.

Melbourne Rebels duo Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili will also sit out the next three weeks of action after picking up red cards in their side’s 36-25 win over the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

The Rebels finished the match with just 13 men on the field, with eight-test Naisarani the first to be sent from the field for a high tackle on Waratahs lock Murray Douglas in the 20th minute.

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Under the new red card law being used in Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU, Naisarani was replaced after 20 minutes on the sideline, but Melbourne’s disciplinary troubles didn’t end there.

Reserve hooker James Hanson was then yellow carded in the 75th minute for not rolling away from a breakdown, before Fa’amausili, the uncapped prop who was named in last year’s Wallabies squad for the Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations, was red carded for another high tackle on Douglas just two minutes later.

Similarly to Kuridrani, both Naisarani and Fa’amausili pleaded guilty for their indiscretions and have clean judicial records, meaning they each avoided a full six-week sanction.

Because the Rebels didn’t qualify for the Super Rugby AU play-offs, Naisarani’s and Fa’amausili’s bans will extend to the grassroots level of the game.

As such, they will be unavailable for their Dewar Shield clubs – Endeavour Hills and Moorabbin, respectively – for the next fortnight.

They will also be banned from the Rebels’ first Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match against the Blues in Melbourne on May 15.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

If rugby wants to remain interesting in the AI era then it will need to work on changing the rules. AI will reduce the tactical advantage of smart game plans, will neutralize primary attacking weapons, and will move rugby from a being a game of inches to a game of millimetres. It will be about sheer athleticism and technique,about avoiding mistakes, and about referees. Many fans will find that boring. The answer is to add creative degrees of freedom to the game. The 50-22 is an example. But we can have fun inventing others, like the right to add more players for X minutes per game, or the equivalent of the 2-point conversion in American football, the ability to call a 12-player scrum, etc. Not saying these are great ideas, but making the point that the more of these alternatives you allow, the less AI will be able to lock down high-probability strategies. This is not because AI does not have the compute power, but because it has more choices and has less data, or less-specific data. That will take time and debate, but big, positive and immediate impact could be in the area of ref/TMO assistance. The technology is easily good enough today to detect forward passes, not-straight lineouts, offside at breakdown/scrum/lineout, obstruction, early/late tackles, and a lot of other things. WR should be ultra aggressive in doing this, as it will really help in an area in which the game is really struggling. In the long run there needs to be substantial creativity applied to the rules. Without that AI (along with all of the pro innovations) will turn rugby into a bash fest.

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