Ex-All Black Ma’a Nonu’s return stint with French club Toulon has helped the club’s resurgence in 2021 after a horror slide down the Top 14 ladder last year, but his latest performance has earned a red card.
Returning to New Zealand with the Blues in 2019, Nonu moved to the MLR for a short stint with the San Diego Legion before Covid-19 caused the season to be cancelled.
As rugby resumed, Nonu answered an SOS call from Toulon as an injury replacement and has been enjoying the club’s fruitful 2021 season.
In Toulon’s latest league match against Lyon, Nonu took exception to halfback Jean Marc Doussain and responded by striking him with an elbow to the head that immediately stopped play.
Doussain had checked Nonu off-the-ball with a shoulder to slow him down as he was chasing to make a tackle which triggered Nonu to react violently with a swinging arm. The Lyon halfback was not expecting the forearm to the face, collapsing to the ground after being hit without looking.
The English commentator knew immediately the severity of the play saying: “oh he’s going to get a red card for that. He’s smashed Doussain in the face with his arm.”
“I don’t know what Doussain did to provoke that, but Ma’a Nonu is going to get a red card.”
The commentator’s prediction come true moments later as Nonu was handed his marching orders in just the 27th minute. For Doussain’s part, he was yellow carded for the block on Nonu.
Moments earlier Toulon had edged a little closer with a penalty goal to close the gap to 15-6 but down to 14-men Lyon were able to pile on a bonus point victory, winning by 54-16.
Former Toulon winger Josua Tuisova scored a brace against his old side, while Toulon’s lone try came from a penalty try of their own in the 68th minute.
After the loss, Toulon slipped back to 7th on the table with 11 wins after 20 matches this season.
Earlier this month Nonu put in a magnificent defensive performance to help his side down a star-studded Racing 92 side, when they had all of their international stars back during the Six Nations break.
Nonu kept Virimi Vakatawa, Finn Russell and Simon Zebo in check as his side came away with a close 25-21 win. It was the second time they have defeated the Paris club, having won 29-23 in January.
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