Thursday, November 10, 2011

Delon Armitage suspended for five weeks for two incidents

Earlier this week England and London Irish back Delon Armitage received two bans for incidents that took place in an Aviva Premiership match against Bath a few weeks back. He has now been suspended five times this year. His brother, Steffon, could also face suspension, following his lashing out at the procedure via Twitter.

Armitage, who was suspended during the Rugby World Cup for a high tackle on Scotland's Chris Paterson, has spent a fair amount of time off the park this year. A push on a doping officer in January earned him 8 weeks off - causing him to miss the entire Six Nations - and upon his return he was suspended for a strike on Northampton Saints flyhalf Stephen Myler.

Armitage pleased guilty to the dangerous high tackle, and was later found guilty of dropping the knee into lock Dave Attwood as he went over for a very well taken try in the corner. That happened in the same match, not long after Armitage returned to the field following his time in the sin-bin.

The RFU banned him for 5 weeks for the tackle, and 3 for the knee, but they will run concurrently. "We accept that both these incidents were reckless and not malicious," said Judge Jeff Blackett.

"However, in relation to the dangerous tackle on Tom Biggs there was the potential for significant injury and for that reason we believe that it was a mid-range entry level offence of six weeks. We increased it to eight because of concerns raised by the IRB about injuries caused by dangerous tackles and because of his poor disciplinary record.

"We then reduced the sanction to five weeks because of his guilty plea, his contrition and the impressive way he conducted himself at the hearing. In relation to the strike to which he also pleaded guilty, we decided that this was a low-end entry offence and for that we imposed a three-week suspension.

"Delon has unfortunately had several disciplinary issues this year and it is a shame that he once again finds himself not playing. However, we hope that he will learn from these events and we look forward to him resuming the game he quite clearly feels very passionate about," he added.

Meanwhile Delon's brother Steffon is under investigation from the RFU regarding comments he made about the rulings on Twitter. Steffon, who is capped by England, reportedly called the RFU 'dickheads' and said 'rugby is turning soft!!! U should have stuck with football!!!!'

Following the recent investigations and banning of Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu for similar comments on Twitter, you would think that there may be a second Armitage being suspended some time soon.

Below are the two incidents from the London Irish match against Bath. The second wasn't discussed by the match commentators as they were focussing on the try being scored, but you can see it briefly anyway. Delon will miss matches in both the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership.

Posted by Rugbydump at 5:28 pm | View Comments (29)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 29 comments

RedYeti November 10, 2011 9:10 pm

Looked like he slid in late so he could try to get under the ball and prevent it being grounded/dislodge it. Still very reckless and silly, especially after what happened to Lawes at the RWC.

The tackle was pretty high and deserved yellow, but I wouldn't blame him for it/call him dirty or malicious: he got stepped by an elusive (and very short!) winger, and trailed an arm out. Also it looked a lot more horrible because of the way Biggs fell backwards with his legs trapped under him.

5 weeks seems about right considering there were too reckless offences, and considering it's his fifth ban of the year...

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Reality November 10, 2011 9:22 pm

They actually reduced the ban because of his guilty plea and contrition? Why does it matter if he pleaded guilty? The evidence is already quite damning. And his contrition? He's a serial offender. If he was sorry about stuff like this then he wouldn't have been suspended five times in one year. Madness!

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Xenophile November 10, 2011 9:29 pm

Both were absolute shockers - well deserving of a lengthy ban. What's the deal with these primadonna's (Fuimaono-Sapolu and now Armitage) trying to be clever/smart on social media? How stupid can they be? It makes me sick to think that these idiots are supposedly 'professionals' - they're an absolute disgrace to sport (not just rugby), and themselves.

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IrishRef November 10, 2011 9:31 pm

christ on a bike. another f****ng rugby player who thinks leading with the knee/leg is acceptable.

RedYeti, that challenge has NOTHING to do with preventing the try. To do that, you need to get your body and arms in there.

I'm disappointed at commentators and some bloggers who simply can't get with the modern era. Rugby is no longer the amateur slugfest some of us may have known it to be in the past.

It is a modern, professional game with full contact. We have an ever-increasing audience and the public's eye - as well as that of television - is scrutinising every detail. Challenges such as both of those Delon put in bring the game into disrepute - never mind the chance of injuring an opponent.

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medicaluke November 10, 2011 10:35 pm

Totally agree with everything you say!

Stefan just makes himself look like an idiot. Anybody watching those clips can see that Delon is just up to his usual dirty tricks. How he is repeatedly picked for England, I'll never know. Not the type of player I want in the England side.

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Reality November 10, 2011 9:42 pm

Well said IrishRef. Hear hear.

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Ronan November 10, 2011 11:08 pm

delon your a scumbag.....

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cheyanqui November 10, 2011 11:10 pm

one can argue that sliding the foot in is meant to try and prevent the ball from being grounded. However, the play is so dangerous (as well as low in terms of success), that players should not use it -- or at the very least, defenders should be responsible for the outcome of throwing a leg out.

Armitage has had a string of bad challenges, and is well on his way to getting a reputation usually reserved for tight forwards -- at least there, the argy bargy is understood.

Players out wide doing this just look like petulant footballers.

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BuzzKillington November 10, 2011 11:23 pm

I'm okay with the high shot. Nobody wants to see it but Delon was wrong footed and in those situations there's not much you can do. Even the cleanest players in Rugby are on offending side of high shots like that. A yellow probably justified for recklessness, but I don't believe that challenge was malicious.

However, I have no time for the knee. It's not something accidental, even when it is accidental! What I mean by that is even when players catch people on D with knees, even if there's no ill intent, it's poor tackling form. I don't believe the high shot is poor tackling form, with the high shot I believe Armitage was wrong footed and made a terrible tackle, despite the tackle attempt being relatively okay.

With the kneeing of people trying to score tries, that's just bad form, because you shouldn't lead with knees or feet in any situation. It's not like he went arms/shoulders first and accidentally clipped the man by being out-maneuvered. He put his knees forward, purposely. Whether it was malicious or reckless in this incident I think is irrelevant, as there is never an excuse to go knees/feet first - Ever.

I'm surprised the ban is as lenient as it is, given the knee incident alone is worthy of a good 6 weeks. You cannot do that.

Delon, with his form, should consider himself lucky. I'm not sure why he's frustrated or whether or not he has off field problems within the last year or so, but if he wants to vent on the field he should do it legally.

If he led with his knees into me - and this is just me, i know - I would have gotten up and thrown a barrage of punches at him, despite the fact he'd probably destroy me in a fist-fight. But the sort of shit he's doing isn't tough, it's cowardly. If you want to hurt people then front up to them chest to chest, or fist to fist.

Delon needs to cut this nonsense out. I know it's not the PC thing to say but his team mates need to punch him into line.

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Pretzel November 11, 2011 2:00 am

I disagree with Irish ref.... Rugby has been professional for many years now, so why all of a sudden has it turned into a bit of a Nancy sport....?

That ofcourse refers to rugby in general, I'm all for big hits scraps and raking, high tackles are great to see but they deserve punishment! So whilst I disagree with Irish ref I actually am sick of armitage and this kind of crap and am disappointed with the punishment, he is building up a rappor for being a nasty shit and the longer ban he gets the better. Personal between him and his brothers comments you can really tell they're a classy bunch!

High tackle was nasty but I really doubt players "intend" to high tackle these days... But the knee was just plain dirty and i lose patience with the guy, everything he does is a cheap shot...

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shamoo November 11, 2011 3:46 am

he's not a good enough player to get away with being dirty, mediocre players with their main strength being dirty rather than skillful should be made an example by the IRB .

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stroudos November 11, 2011 10:11 am

Had to laugh at Austin Healey struggling to find the right word to excuse his initial reaction that the high tackle was OK. In fact, "the commentator's provocative" I suppose was actually quite apt!

Had to agree with him too - on first viewing the high tackle didn't look too bad, especially with Biggs being so low down, and everyone who's played full-back has definitely made that type of desperate lunge when some nimble bastard's about to nip round and beat you on the outside!

Can't argue with the fact that it was high and dangerous though, so the yellow card is justified. I don't suppose Armitage helped the ref much with his shit-eating grin of incredulity.

If this tackle had been the only transgression I wouldn't have thought a citing was warranted at all. However, given his previous and the IRB guideline that Blackett mentions, then fair enough. Like most other posters, I fail to see a case for any reduction in sanction for such a recidivist offender.

This business of sliding into try-scorers is becoming a bit of a plague in the game. I have yet to see a positive result from this tactic - ie the defending player actually managing to disrupt the ball and prevent the try being scored. I have occasionally seen a player swoop in with arms out in front and succeed in getting an arm under the ball - Christ knows how and I'm amazed they've been able to do it - but never from a knee or foot-first approach.

In my opinion, the knee should have attracted the higher ban. The high tackle can be explained as an accidental mis-timing, kneeing people in the head has no place in the game and a long suspension is needed as a deterrent.

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bnations November 11, 2011 4:24 pm

I seem to remember both Richie McCaw and Dan Carter stopping tries with their knees during tri-nations games over in the last year or two. For the life of me, I can't remember which ones, though. At the time, it angered me to see them get away with it as it looks like nothing so much as cheap shots meant to punish the try scorer more than actually disrupt the try. But, in the end, they were allowed to do it and it was successful.

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IrishRef November 11, 2011 12:31 pm


nancy sport, do you mean highly dangerous high tackles and dropping your knee into somebody's face? If you can't do that you're a nancy?

Sorry to be so blunt but with such an attitude you are part of the problem. What is a young viewer going to think if he or she watch incidents such as this replayed time and time again on television. Coupled with muppets like Austin Healey "there's nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.............hmm ok that was bad"

sliding in to prevent a try leading with a leg is bad enough (remember Ben Cohen on Girvan Dempsey at twickenham in 2004 - well girve left that game with bruised ribs) - but not even sticking your leg out and dropping the knees is criminal.

I agree that high tackles can sometimes be down to mistimed attempts or the wilyness of opponents ducking under your challenge, but that being so you must let go immediately when you realise you're grasping someone by the neck. What did Delon do? Pulled him to ground by his neck, twisting the man's body in the process. It was a disgusting way to finish a dangerous tackle.

the laws on foul play are not there for referees to apportion intent to the offence, we must only look at effect. This is where some commentators are completely wrong in their analysis of what they see. Intent only comes to play if there is an upheld citing and a judicial hearing ensues.

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Hry November 11, 2011 2:30 pm

Biggs is only a bit under 6 foot. No idea what the commentators are on about.

Besides, I don't wanna reignite a touchy subject, but "he's small/light" has never been a valid excuse for a dangerous tackle (Warburton/Clerc).

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ss8108 November 11, 2011 3:04 pm

Steffon plays in France now so the the RFU even have any power to discipline him?

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rugby08 November 11, 2011 3:34 pm

I believe there's been a statement that they dont have any power and in my view its not serious enough for the IRB to get involved anyway.

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johndoe November 11, 2011 7:26 pm

So the RFU lessen the length of D. Armitage's 4th or 5th ban this year because he pleaded guilty and acted and because of his contrition? And they let his bans run concurrently? And then they try to investigate someone outside of their control? Good job RFU. Stand up job. Fucking idiots.

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Pretzel November 11, 2011 8:18 pm

Irish ref, I suggest you re-read my comment as I believe I made it clear this was not acceptable... Then again we all know where Irish refs stand with regards to the tackle area....

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Reality November 11, 2011 8:55 pm

Ah in fairness I didn't really understand what you were disagreeing or agreeing with him about either.

And where do the Irish refs stand? Surely they oppose illegal ones and have no problems with legal ones?

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Guy November 12, 2011 9:40 am

Thought the tackle could be unintentionally high. If you look at the photo, the arm is over the shoulder, not around the neck. The way the tackled player fell, made it look worse. I have no problem with the card: the ref has to decide right away and it looked quite bad.

The knee however is very dangerous. And stupid. Honestly: how the hell did he think he could get away with that. Massive brainfart. And the silly thing is: he is starting to build a reputation for himself as being a dirty player. So the bans will only get longer. Which, imho, proves that in these cases the judicial system in rugby does work.

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IrishRef November 12, 2011 11:56 am


I don't want to get into a bitchfest but I take umbrage at a couple of your phrases in the post I commented upon.

First of all " high tackles are great to see but they deserve punishment!". Great to see? What on earth does that phrase mean? I wince when I see them and feel queasy, enjoying someones discomfort and dangerous situations seems totally wrong.

Rugby isn't all of a sudden turning into a nancy sport as you describe it (again, your choice of phrase leaves me wondering slightly about you to be honest). In recent years the IRB has been working closer with broadcasters when it comes to making footage available for such incidents and having this material available is the key to the rulings that we're seeing of late. Back in 1999, there weren't too many TMO's around in the English premiership (or whatever it was called back then!).

and then you finish with a flourish: your vignette about Irish refs and the tackle area. I presume you mean the warburton red card - a decision that was totally correct and vindicated by everyone, including the player himself. A personal attack on me rooted in an attack on another, top-class and international ref.

Yes Pretzel, you are one class act!

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Pretzel November 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Irish ref, my point is you seem to believe that because the sport has become "professional" it warrants some extra care to make in "acceptable" to see on TV.. We wouldn't want to see anything nasty before 9:00pm would we?

I accept that Armitage is a tool and this was a nasty tackle to watch, my "great to see" is perhaps a little incorrectly worded, more "spectacularly horrible" much like morbid curiosity if you will.

With reference to Irish referees, yes a bit of a personal attack that was perhaps out of line, I believe Rolland was extremely overzealous with regards to the red card, however this is probably more the IRB wording and lack of instructions with regards to remaining consistent, as we all saw similar if not worse tackles given less. You do however mention Warburton accepting the card and the decision. It is not in a players best interest to hold grudges and to question referees decisions, otherwise we head into footballism. So all in all it was an out of line comment that I made which did however carry some weighting. (or would have done last month...old news)

My disagreement was not so much to do with the stance you take on Armitage and his (constant) behaviour, more the stance you take with regards to "public eye." Dangerous play is dangerous play, regardless if it is an under 15 game being watched by 1 man and his dog on a Sunday morning or if it is a full blown RWC final watched by 60,000+ fans at the game and millions on tv, the public eye makes no odds. Bringing the game into disrepute has more to do with IRB inconsistencies and idiotic statements such as "We increased it to eight, then reduced it to five etc etc etc"

Armitage has been infront of a panel like that a fair few times now, so because he handles it well and pleads guilty it can reduce his sentence?!?

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IrishRef November 14, 2011 12:08 am


stop putting words into my mouth (or pen) that simply aren't there. My point about the TMO and use of technology in the modern game is a direct retort to your overzealous contention that rugby is somehow turning into a game for "nancy boys". The fact is, these things always happened but now at top games we have tools available to santion players who break the laws.

Many people thought Rolland over-zealous with his red card at the world cup, but many people aren't referees themselves and probably weren't privy to the IRB directives (3 in total) that were sent out since 2007 regarding the tip tackle. As Warburton himself said, players and coaches were aware of the directive and Rolland did the only thing he could - give the red card. By the way, Steve Walsh was officially admonished for NOT giving red to Estebanez in the France v Tonga game.

The point about "we've all seen similar tackles punished with less" is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the IRB want this type of tackle eradicated from the game, much like their "war on gouging" in recent years. This means that you will have a point from which red cards will be the norm. To therefore argue that a red card given in October 2011 is unfair because a red card was not given in July 2011 is a real misnomer. It's always the case with new or updated legislation, you have to draw a line in the sand and say from this point on, this is the punishment and those given in the past were in the past.

yes dangerous play is dangerous play, but if you're watching a local game along with the solitary dog and you see something that is unacceptable, rugby is getting bad coverage to an audience of 1 plus a canine. If you have a global audience of a few million and 60k in the stadium, you are reaching a million more with bad advertising.

for what it's worth, I believe they should drop the entire "showed contrition and has a clean record" nonsense at citing hearings. 3 strikes and out is effective.

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Just Call Me Ehtch November 12, 2011 7:24 pm

Oh dear Delon, there is something happenning with you, isn't there?

I'll send Tom round to discuss it with you, if you get me. But don't mind if you don't, you play for that England after all. TOM!

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Just Call Me Ehtch November 12, 2011 7:32 pm

TOM! as in TOM!, not anything else, honest, as one from his tribe, singing, the great welshman and supporter of things. bollocks, I think I am digging a hole here Tom,

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