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USA scrumhalf Shaun Davies was knocked out of Saturday’s contest with the Maori All Blacks in Chicago with a concussion. He has also been ruled out for the upcoming match with Samoa in Spain.
In the 36th minute, Maori second row Pari Pari Parkinson came through a ruck to play the diminutive scrumhalf, wrapped him up, lifted him above his waist and violently slammed him to the ground. Parkinson was shown just a yellow for the foul play. It was one of the Maori’s three bookings on the night, though there was room for more.
World Rugby is seeking no further sanction for Parkinson’s foul play. His yellow card will stand as such.
“The ref said that he tipped him to horizontal, and he landed on his back, and that’s true,” said USA head coach Gary Gold, “but unfortunately, you don’t get a concussion by landing on your back, you get a concussion from your head slamming the floor, and that’s where I feel it was extremely dangerous what he did.”
Davies is still with the team as it prepares for Spain, and it’s possible he’ll be available for upcoming matches against Romania and Ireland. Ruben de Haas spelled Davies well Saturday, and he’ll be expected to start against Samoa. Devereaux Ferris and Nick Boyer, who recently played for the USA Selects in the Americas Pacific Challenge, have been called into camp to add depth to the position.
The lack of coverage or concern over the Davies slam is stark, especially considering the attention being paid to the game-winning Owen Farrell hit in England’s nail-biting win over South Africa. Video and photos from every angle have been picked apart by the rugby press. World Rugby issued a statement to say Farrell wouldn’t be sanctioned further. Crickets for Parkinson’s wildly dangerous slam of Davies.
One has to wonder, if it were Ireland’s Connor Murray, New Zealand’s Aaron Smith or South Africa’s Faf de Klerk being Rock Bottomed by Samu Manoa, would there have been more coverage? Would the card still have been yellow? Would there have been further sanction after the fact?
“Do I think if it was not the United States of America, who are not a tier one team, and it’s the Kiwis, yes, I probably think it might have been seen in a different light,” said Gold. “I don’t know the answer to that. That’s just my opinion.”
Davies did land on his back. His hips never went higher than his shoulders. That nullifies two specific criteria for automatic sanction on a dangerous tackle, but it doesn’t clear Parkinson of wrongdoing.
“A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders,” said law 9.13 on foul play.
“A player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground,” says law 9.18.
The first passage clearly states that a dangerous tackle isn’t limited to a tip tackle. The second clearly states the head or upper body shouldn’t be driven into the ground. The back is part of the upper body. Davies landed on his back.