University of Canberra Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper will face the Reds this Saturday night after avoiding suspension for his lifting tackle on the Hurricanes Victor Vito.
The 20 year old was found guilty and issued an off-field yellow card with Judicial Officer Nick Davidson QC ruling the offence was at the low end of the scale. The result came early on Tuesday morning after his hearing on Monday night via video link at the Brumbies Rugby Training Centre.
Hooper was alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a Player from the ground and either dropping or driving that player’s head and/or upper body into the ground whilst the player’s feet are off the ground, when he tackled Vito in the 48th minute of last Friday night’s match in Wellington.
In a statement released by SANZAR, Hooper’s tackle was described as follows.
“Mr Davidson concluded that Hooper made an orthodox tackle around the knees but was driven back by the ball carrier who drove forward with his right leg raised high.
“Hooper did not change his hold on that leg and his other arm was in contact but ineffectual. From that position the ball carrier was left without balance on his left foot. This was not so much a lifting but holding the right leg in a high position which with the momentum saw Vito fall sharply to his left, landing on his elbow then shoulder then placing the ball.
“He was not injured. The referee was emphatic that the penalty was sufficient and reflected a lifting and losing control rather than a tipping or driving.
“The JO considered the crux of the decision lay in whether Hooper lifted or tipped the ball carrier. The evidence did not establish a lift in the ordinary way but that Hooper did contribute to the tipping which partly rose from the destabilised position of the ball carrier in driving the tackler back with his right leg high.
“The decision of the referee is to stand in his assessment of the incident as to the facts and gravity unless considered to be wrong. His position was clearly expressed. He found a breach but for slightly different reasons than the JO.
“The contribution to the tipping puts the player in breach but it was contributory only and otherwise arose from an orthodox tackle.
“He has an excellent disciplinary and off field record. Rule 9.2 allows a yellow off field card where the breach is low end and there are compelling mitigating features as here and there are no aggravating features. While the spate of these incidents may be seen as aggravating this is tempered by the unusual facts here.”
Hooper has enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 and has developed into one of the competition’s most effective open-side flankers.
DOB: 29/10/1991, Sydney, NSW
Senior Club: Easts, ACT
Super Rugby Caps: 26
Super Rugby Points: 25 (5t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 v Chiefs, Canberra