Rugby is a rough sport, played by tough men. However, the majority of the time the game is played in good temper and in adherence to the rules enforced by the referee. Respect for officials and opponents is in fact a cornerstone of the sport and ensures it does not descend into anarchy on the field.
However, there are times when, in the heat of battle, players invariably lose their cool, sometimes spectacularly.
So here we’ve selected those most likely to fly off the handle and put them into one team – international rugby’s ‘most banned’ XV.
Note: the list does not include those players banned for use of performance enhancing drugs.
1. Prop: Johan Le Roux – 18 months
Most famous for biting the ear of All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick during a 1994 Test match, the Springbok prop received an 18-month ban for his troubles.
Afterwards the unrepentant Le Roux admits that had he known the ban would have been that long, he would have bitten Fitzpatrick’s ear clean off. Charming.
2. Hooker: Dylan Hartley – 54 weeks
The current England captain has a brutal disciplinary record, with six separate bans for foul play including biting, head butting, elbowing, gouging and verbal abuse.
The head butt incident cost him his place in the 2015 World Cup squad but was named England captain by new coach Eddie Jones earlier this year and has seemingly turned over a new leaf.
3. Prop: David Attoub – 70 weeks
In 2009 Attoub was found guilty of a deliberate eye-gouge on Ulster’s Stephen Ferris. Following Ferris’ testimony, the disciplinary committee threw the book at the French international.
4. Lock: Danny Grewcock – 28 Weeks
The England international has had his fair share of issues with his temper. With six separate bans imposed for violent conduct between 1998 and 2010, it seems that the 28 weeks imposed on the second row didn’t really rehabilitate him at all.
5. Lock: Kevin Moseley – 32 weeks
During an international test against France in 1990 the former Wales international was adjudged to have stamped on Marc Andrieu and received a 32-week ban; at the time the longest ban ever handed down.
6. Flanker: Trevor Brennan – Five Years
Found guilty of attacking a fan while he was warming up on the sideline during a game between Ulster and his side Toulouse. Brennan’s excuse was that the fan apparently said something derogatory about his mother.
Initially handed a lifetime ban, this was reduced to five years on appeal. Brennan promptly retired.
7. Flanker: Calum Clarke – 32 Weeks
The Northampton flanker was found guilty of hyper-extending and breaking the arm of Leicester’s Rob Hawkins in 2012. Originally given a 64-week ban, this was halved following a guilty plea by Clarke.
8: Mark Jones – 17 Weeks
The former Wales No. 8 was never one to shy away from an altercation on the field. Fighting, punching and a head butt incident aged 38 saw Jones accrue 17 weeks in bans.
9. Scrum Half: David Bishop – 11 Months
Despite breaking his neck early in his career, the Wales international scrum half defied doctors and returned to play within a year.
While many expected the Welsh firebrand to amass more than a solitary international cap, it was an off the ball incident in which he broke an opponent’s jaw that put an end to his international prospects.
10. Fly Half: Percy Montgomery – 6 Months
One of South Africa’s most capped players, the versatile winger, centre and fly half amassed nearly 900 points for the Springboks between 1997 and 2008.
He also managed to receive a two-year ban and a £15,000 fine for pushing a touch judge to the ground while playing for Newport in 2003. 18 months of the ban was suspended, however.
11. Wing: Rupeni Caucaunibuca – 12 Months
The Fiji international was at times a blistering winger but it is his disciplinary record that he is most remembered for.
The majority of his time banned stems from a year-long suspension which the Fiji Rugby Union imposed when he failed to show up for national team duties. Shorter bans for punching and cannabis use bookended this lengthy hiatus from the game.
12. Centre: Seru Rabeni – 17 weeks
Former Fiji international Rabeni, who tragically passed away earlier this year, was no stranger to over-the-top physicality. High tackles and eye gouging in 2008 saw him sit out 17 weeks of that season.
13. Centre: Sireli Naqelevuki – 3 Months
Fiji international Naqelevuki tested positive for cannabis in 2007 following a sevens tournament in South Africa and was promptly handed a three-month ban.
14. Wing: Delon Armitage – 24 Weeks
Now one of England’s finest exports and a star of European rugby giants Toulon, Armitage has had his fair share of run-ins with disciplinary committees.
Tip tackles, physical and verbal abuse of officials and fans have seen him amass 24 weeks on the sidelines.
15. Fullback: Silvere Tian – 15 Months
The Ivory Coast international was handed a 15-month ban in April of this year while playing for Top 14 side Oyannax.
The fullback lost his cool and called referee Romain Poite ‘shit’ after being yellow carded for coming in from the side of a ruck.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
Heineken Rugby Club celebrates and rewards real supporters who make the game what it is.
Primary source: Wales Online
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