It is what it is. Clearly panel thought it was reckless but unintentional so 12 weeks is lowest sanction minus 4 weeks for good record. It was reckless but George has plenty of time to build fitness and we will see him in 7 weeks now.
Incidentally what Hartley did was also bloody reckless and could have caused just as much injury.
8 weeks for an hand on the face / accidental finger in the eye is a good result for Earle, given the letter of the law.
However, the letter of the law is a capital J for Joke.
Club someone across the head from behind (intentional) and, despite already totting up 54 weeks of bans, you get just 6 weeks.
The followuing are from this round of European matches:
The Montpellier player, Paul Willemse, has been suspended for one week for charging into a ruck with his shoulder.
The Montpellier prop, Davit Kubriashvili, has been suspended for three weeks for charging into a ruck.
The Timisoara Saracens flanker, Randall Morrison, has been suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle.
The Harlequins player, Mat Luamanu, has been suspended for three weeks for charging dangerously into the Timisoara Saracens wing, Madalin Lemnaru.
The citing complaint against the Toulouse player, Maks van Dyk, for striking an opponent. The Committee determined that Van Dyk had committed an act of foul play but found that the offence did not warrant a red card. The citing complaint was therefore dismissed.
Did Earles's actions actually injure or were they intended to injure? Certainly no more than some of the above.
I think it's a bit worrying for the nature of the game that the directives now are focusing on the outcome rather than the player's intention. In cases like Earle's, although I agree that 8 weeks for a momentary and accidental "contact" is daft in comparison to other more physical incidents, I suppose you could get on board with that notion.
But when you consider that incidents like the North one and the tackle on Finn Russell in Glasgow's game against Leicester didn't result in red cards because of how the tackled players landed, it's a joke. Should the tackling player, who on both occasions took people out in the air resulting in those players landing pretty much vertically, only be given a yellow card because the tackled players didn't land directly on their heads? In the Finn Russell tackle, Toomua was only given a yellow because Russell put his arm out to stop his head hitting the ground first.
I think there needs to be a bit of common sense, as opposed to just sticking to what the directives say. If someone goes in recklessly, i.e. taking someone's legs out from underneath them with no intention to play the ball, then how the tackled player lands shouldn't really have a bearing (barring they pull off a 360 flip!) on the punishment; it should be red.
If the World Rugby want to cut out these incidents, then that's not the way to do it.
As far as Earle's punishment goes, I'm 100% in agreement with everybody else, it's harsh considering the circumstances of the action. You could argue that dishing out red cards for any contact made to the eye/face will stamp it out, but given that his head was in a maul and his hand wasn't making a gouging action or lingering on the player's face I don't see how that can carry a higher ban than throwing your shoulder/arm into prone players.
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