x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Quade Cooper's escape sets a dangerous precedent

Quade Cooper is, by a distance, the most watchable player on any squad-list for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, but he is lucky he is being allowed to play in it at all.

Quade Cooper is, by a distance, the most watchable player on any squad-list for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, but he is lucky he is being allowed to play in it at all.

In the latest episode of an escalating feud between the brilliant Australia fly-half and Richie McCaw, Cooper seemed to aim a sly knee at the head of the New Zealand captain as he lay defenceless on the floor during the Tri Nations decider at the weekend.

Somehow, Cooper escaped censure for the crime, despite the seemingly damning on-screen evidence.

It was a cheap shot, the sort that was probably delivered safe in the knowledge that there would only be one winner in a fair fight between the two. It certainly would not be Cooper. The Wallaby No 10 was cited, but the charges were subsequently dropped. History suggests he is a very lucky boy.

In 2003, Martin Leslie, arguably Scotland's most influential player at the time, saw his World Cup dream ended mid-flow by a similar act.

He was deemed to have deliberately kneed a United States player in the head in a pool match, and was subsequently handed a 12 week ban. Not only did it end his involvement in the World Cup, it ended his international career as he was planning to retire at its conclusion anyway.

Rugby fans outside of New Zealand will be delighted the citing commissioner has chosen to see and hear no evil this time, but an uncomfortable precedent may have been set by the Cooper case.


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