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Judicial Findings For Winston Stanley And Paul Williams

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

12 August 2009 - Auckland players Winston Stanley and Paul Williams appeared before New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Judicial Officer Bruce Squire QC at hearings in Wellington today.

Both players were cited for separate incidents of charging an opponent without the ball, during the Air New Zealand Cup match between Auckland and Canterbury, played at Auckland on Saturday, 8 August 2009.

Winston Stanley: The incident involving Stanley occurred in the second half of the match when he checked Canterbury's Ryan Crotty, who had kicked the ball towards the Auckland goal line. Stanley ran across in front of the Canterbury player, and made contact with Crotty with his left shoulder. The Canterbury player was knocked to the ground but played on after receiving medical attention.

At the hearing, Stanley acknowledged he had breached the law under which he had been cited but a review of the incident on video recordings showed that his actions were not intentional. Although there was contact between Stanley's upper arm and the Canterbury player's head, that resulted from Stanley leaping into the air, in an effort to block the flight of the ball as it was kicked ahead.

Mr Squire found that although there was clearly a breach, the culpability in the offending was such that no penalty, beyond the finding of foul play, was warranted.

Paul Williams: In the case of Paul Williams, the citing involved the same breach of laws following another incident, in the second half of the match.

Williams checked the progress of Canterbury's Dan Carter who had run towards him and kicked the football over his head towards the Auckland goal line. Williams moved into the path of the Canterbury player and made contact with him just above shoulder level without the use of arms in circumstances where there was a clear risk of contact with the head and the potential for serious injury.

Williams said in evidence that he was attempting to avoid contact with another Auckland player who was endeavouring to tackle the Canterbury player. He said he was concerned the Auckland player would follow through with the tackle and make contact with his legs, which had previously been injured.

Mr Squire upheld the citing, adding that the breach of the law was clear. In assessing penalty he indicated he did not wholly accept Williams' explanation and he considered contact with the Canterbury player resulted from a last minute decision by Williams to pull out of a tackle to which he was committed.

Mr Squire said the contact was made at an unacceptably high level, and that the degree of recklessness involved warranted a period of suspension.

Williams has been suspended from all rugby for one week up to, and including, 19 August 2009.

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