IRB boss Gosper decision sets a precedent

Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012

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OPINION: New International Rugby board boss Brett Gosper has just made life very difficult for himself.

The decision by rugby's governing body to review All Black Adam Thomson's one-week ban for trampling has quickly set a precedent under Gosper's tenure.

Gosper has now drawn a line in the sand.

We wait to see what happens to the next case that steps over that line. Or if Gosper is willing to be flexible with his thinking.

But, when it comes to judicial matters, he will be under pressure to deliver consistency.

Consistency is the key ingredient players, teams and coaches want from officials - on and off the field.

With the boundaries set, players, teams and coaches know the confines they are working with.

So we can assume Gosper will to take an eagle-eye approach to all judicial matters. Or can we? How Gosper reacts from here will be under the microscope because he has taken a reactionary approach to the Thomson case.

Gosper is a fan of social media but, to get involved in a tweeting storm once Thomson's initial ban was delivered, was questionable for someone in his position.

In reacting to the predictable outcry by British journalists over Thomson's sentence, Gosper surprisingly tweeted: "The IRB will review this case as it is a match under our jurisdiction. If we decide to take action, we will make it public."

That has now happened. And with it has come Gosper's barometer for what he sees as acceptable. It's up to him to stick to that or risk becoming as "inconsistent" as this very process has proven to be in the past.

It's interesting that Gosper has come out so strongly over the Thomson case.

If it really is one rule for the All Blacks and another rule for the other teams - as is the perception up north - then the New Zealand camp can only look with bemusement at the judiciary's handling of some blatant thuggery against skipper Richie McCaw.

Springbok prop Dean Greyling copped a one-week ban for a flying elbow into McCaw's face and then Wallabies loosie Scott Higginbotham gets a two-week ban for kneeing and headbutting McCaw.

Not even the cynical - nor serial - nature of these acts and the resulting lightweight sentences could tempt Gosper to tap into Twitter and, as the boss of rugby, question the Sanzar rulings.

To make things worse, Higginbotham serves his punishment and declares: "I don't regret anything I did."

It will be interesting to see if Gosper has any regrets. 

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- Fairfax Media


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