Hore's punishment doesn't match the crime

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 10:03 29/11/2012
Andrew Hore
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MISSING OUT: Andrew Hore will miss the Highlanders three pre-season games and their opening Super Rugby game, but reinforcements are not being called in.

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OPINION: Andrew Keith Hore will be happy he wasn't playing rugby in Keith Murdoch's day or he could be on a plane bound to nowhere, or at least farming in central Australia rather than Central Otago.

Hore's swinging arm from behind that floored Welsh lock Bradley Davies and sent him to hospital has been punished with an eight week suspension by the International Rugby Board.

It was then reduced to five because of Hore's exemplary record during a 74-test career, genuine remorse and daily contact with Davies.

That seems a fair punishment on the surface because Hore won't be able to play against England or the three test home series against France and the opening Bedisloe Cup test against Australia on August 24.

Well, actually that's not right.

The only test Hore will miss is this weekend's England game and then three pre-season Highlanders games and the Super Rugby competition opener.

Apparently the judicial officer received unreserved assurances from All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster that the pre-season matches had "significant and meaningful consequences" for the newly-appointed Highlanders captain.

Really? The Crusaders playing the Highlanders in my hometown of Timaru is that important? I'm impressed.

Last time I watched them in a similiar pre-season in Oamaru it was rolling subs and any All Black was hard to spot apart from being swamped by autograph hunters when they appeared from the sponsors marquee.

This is where the IRB is out of touch.

What also makes me smile is while the Scottish judicial officer Lorne Crerar found Hore's swinging arm had been "inherently dangerous" and was "delivered with significant force" to an unsighted player, he ruled Hore did not intend to make contact with Davies' head.

Davies stands 198 cm (6ft 6in) while Hore is 1.83m (6ft 0in), and it clocked him square on the jaw, perhaps Crerar could explain what he was aiming for.

That however is the side show.

My real gripe is the fact the senseless act took place on the international test stage and that is where the punishment should take place.

Football does it that way perhaps rugby should wake up and follow suit.

Imagine Dan Carter or Richie McCaw laying prone at the Millennium Stadium and we were told the culprits punishment would include three Heineken Cup warm-ups that player was not likely to front in anyway.

As for Hore, he's belatedly apologised and seems to mean it and I rate him a tough but fair bloke.

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Foster also moved to defend the silence surrounding the issue from the All Blacks' camp this week, saying it was important to follow protocol.

That may not have been the case had the victim been in his changing room.

Anyway, my argument is with  the IRB process and the way the punishment is allowed to be served.

Perhaps Hore should have said he was in line for an Otago side at the Queenstown Sevens as well and then he would have be free to start the Super Rugby competition opener, or is that just silly?

- The Timaru Herald

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