Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World



The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

Eddie Jones' England weren't far away from making the grade.

RugbyPass+ Home

Video: The Eben Etzebeth ruck clearout that has fired-up Twitter

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Nicolas Tucat/AFP via Getty Images)

There was no denying that Lyon were deserving winners in Friday night’s European Challenge Cup final, defeating Toulon 30-12 at Stade Velodrome, but the main talking point on social media in the aftermath was the 72nd-minute ruck clearout by Eben Etzebeth on Davit Niniashvili.


The Lyon player had just dumped the Springboks World Cup winner on his backside in a 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.

Video Spacer

Eben Etzebeth | Rugby Roots
Video Spacer
Eben Etzebeth | Rugby Roots

Referee Luke Pearce and his team of officials decided there wasn’t an issue with the collision that unfolded but numerous rugby fans on Twitter didn’t agree and a debate ignited about the legality of the clearout by the South African.

Some comments from EK Rugby Analysis were typical of the debate. “My first reaction was that it was a cheap shot, but Pearce did have a good long look at it in fairness and said, ‘Etzebeth comes in, his right arm binds around the body […] I’m not seeing anything illegal at the moment.’ It definitely looks much more legal on slo-mo for me.”

He revisited the issue on Saturday with a follow-up tweet. “After a night’s sleep, my thoughts on the clearout: Etzebeth does try to leave a mark on Niniashvili when other options were available. Etzebeth’s clear out is illegal as Niniashvili isn’t in the ruck competing for the ball – it’s dangerous play.”


Other fans defended Etzebeth over his intervention. One wrote: “Etzebeth’s ability to do everything to impose himself physically but still fall within the laws of the game to not get carded could be his best attribute as a player.”

Another suggested: “I just think the context played into this. If Etzebeth hadn’t been tackled five seconds earlier I don’t think this would have got the attention it did. The narrative has played a role.”



Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
TRENDING Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam