New Zealand will not appeal Sam Dickson’s nine match suspension, but coach Gordon Tietjens has staunchly defended his player and questioned whether he should have been cited at all.
Dickson was slapped with the hefty ban following New Zealand’s 12-7 pool win over Fiji at the Las Vegas sevens on Sunday for making ‘‘reckless’’ contact with an opponent’s face.
Television footage suggests Dickson unintentionally raked his hand across Fijian player Jona Tuitoga’s eyes as the pair wrestled on the ground late in the match.
And though Tietjens said today the citing was within the IRB’s guidelines, he questioned the severity of the punishment.
‘‘I’ve reviewed the footage and had a look at it. I feel for the guy [Dickson]. He’s never been the aggressor at any stage as a rugby player. He couldn’t even recall the incident that’s how low end it was quite honestly.
‘‘It’s disappointing for him because he got such a lengthy penalty of nine games, which effectively rules him out of Wellington.
‘‘From what I saw he was on the ground trying to look after himself. The penalty's been given and we just have to punch on really.’’
Though an appeal was considered, Tietjens said it would be futile to attempt to get the ban reduced.
‘‘Quite clearly they state within the IRB that anything around the face if you are involved in an incident you can receive a suspension of 12 weeks onwards.
‘‘I suppose when you look at the footage in slow motion his hand is around the face trying to free himself. I know there was never any intent from Sam Dickson because I know the boy that well.
‘‘If they did reduce the sentence, they only get reduced a couple of matches and we’d only have him for a couple of matches in Wellington.’’
Tietjens had no problem with the two match suspension handed to George Tilsley in the same match, but the entire squad were shocked by Dickson’s punishment.
‘‘Sam’s is the one we thought wouldn’t go anywhere near the suspension he got. We didn’t think he’d be suspended to be fair.
‘‘Sam was shocked when he found out he had to go up before the citing commissioner, but that’s it and that’s probably all I can comment on that to be honest.’’
Tietjens lamented some inaccuracy during New Zealand’s 14-7 final loss to South Africa, but was proud of his side’s efforts.
‘‘We had a particularly tough draw if you look at Australia, Fiji and Scotland in our pool and to beat England [in the quarters] and obviously cope with the suspension of a couple of players as well then to go all the way to the final and just lose to South Africa.
‘‘We lacked accuracy to be fair, particularly in the set play, which cost us one try [in the final], but the guys gave it their all and we just weren’t good enough, simple as that really.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News