Watch: Welsh lock gets off scot-free after fouling Faf De Klerk with crushing clothesline tackle
Welsh lock Jake Ball has luckily escaped any on-field sanction after a brutal clothesline tackle on Springbok scrumhalf Faf De Klerk in Sale’s Champions Cup fixture against Scarlets.
The incident was incredibly puzzling as the tackle was reviewed for potentially being offside, but the TMO and match referee failed to register De Klerk getting clocked directly to the head by the swinging arm and shoulder area of Ball.
Sale’s scrumhalf was preparing to launch a box kick with his hands placed on the ball when the Scarlets big man decided to launch himself from the side of the ruck to sack the Springbok.
Ball’s dangerous trajectory towards the crouched De Klerk was only going to end one way, with his massive frame unable to get low enough to perform a legal tackle. As a result, De Klerk was clobbered high by the shoulder/forearm of Ball and collapsed dangerously under the weight of the lock.
The crushing clothesline tackle could have also led to a serious leg injury as De Klerk’s body awkwardly folded under the pressure.
Faf De Klerk was left visibly confused afterward, with multiple teammates pleading with the touch official to have the tackle reviewed.
Former England international Andy Goode was quick to condemn the work of the officiating team online, asking ‘how about the shoulder to the head?!’
The incident was not the first time that Faf De Klerk has had a run in with the Welsh lock, with Ball taking exception to the scrumhalf during the 2019 World Cup semi-final with the two coming face-to-face during an argument.
Jake has been wanting to that for a while! pic.twitter.com/ygdIGKd2DY
— Hugo Cannon (@CannonCapitalWM) April 4, 2021
De Klerk recently explained in an interview with TheXV.Rugby that he likes to bait the big men in the game as they no longer can do anything about it.
“Now, the big boys can’t really do anything – if they do, they are going to get a card, so trying to wind them up is more effective,” he said.
However, Ball’s dangerous tackle on De Klerk was deserving of punishment, with many fans calling for a red card. The fact that it was left unsanctioned raised many eyebrows.
Deliberate contact with the head without use of the arm. Player not moving so no mitigating factors. Red all day long and no reason not to give it. Where the ball is is irrelevant
— Simon wade (@siwade82) April 4, 2021
It’s clearly to shoulder to head contact regardless of whether the ball is considered in or out? Really doesn’t matter where his arms are when it’s clear head contact…
— Simone Brooke-Smith (@x_simonebrooke) April 4, 2021
Red card all day long. There does seem to be a striking difference between the interpretation of this from French officials and Pro14/Premiership refs.
— Keith Bohannon (@Keith_Boh) April 4, 2021
Given the spate of reds for accidental/reckless hits over the last few weeks, the fact this wasn't picked up at all is really, really poor. At best it looks reckless, at worst it looks intentional. Either way, it looks like a red all day long.
— Happy and Scottish (@tartancrane) April 4, 2021
At the time of the tackle, Sale Sharks were already ahead by 30-0 with the game pretty much out of distance for Scarlets to win. The final score line of 57-14 reflected Sale’s dominance.
The win secured Sale’s first quarterfinal trip in the Champions Cup in 15 years, booking a matchup with La Rochelle in the round of eight.
Sale and reigning champions Exeter are the two last English clubs in the running for a European Crown.
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