The Cribb Incident
by Tracey Nelson
14 Oct 2003
There are some things in rugby that just annoy you (such as fatties in the backline, shoddy defensive efforts, botched lineouts etc) and then there are things that make your blood run cold. Ron Cribb’s stomping on Ryan Glover’s head in the NPC game against Canterbury on October 11th is one of those things.
Cribb has been suspended for 6 weeks by a NZRU judicial committee after they viewed a videotape of the incident and heard evidence from Cribb where he claimed the contact made with Glover’s head was accidental, that he had no intention of injuring the player and what he did was ‘entirely inadvertent’. His explanation was that he was endeavouring to secure possession of the football located beneath the body of the Canterbury player and that the contact made with his head was an accidental result of that rucking.
Amazingly, the committee was satisfied that Cribb had not deliberately brought his boot into contact with Glover’s head even though they viewed the videotape and must have seen Cribb run over to the ruck from where he was originally positioned to the right of it, cross around behind it, come in above where Glover’s head was on the ground and bring his boot down on it. How he could tell that the ball was ‘under the body of the Canterbury player’ (who was by this stage buried under bodies from both teams anyway) is nothing short of incredible, especially given that the ball was coming out on the other side of the ruck.
The judicial committee have made a statement that Cribb’s actions were “quite reckless and unnecessarily exposed those players (lying in the ruck) to risk of injury” and that it was a relatively bad case of its kind. Damn straight it was. But what I would like to know is why he wasn’t also cited for his earlier late elbow charge on another Canterbury player in the same game – perhaps if he had been the judicial committee may have been able to factor in that Cribb was in a reckless state of mind throughout most of that game and was in fact deliberately targeting opposition players.
But the crowning glory to this nasty incident has been statements from Harbour coach Russell Jones and CEO Doug Rollerson, where both have said that this sort of action is totally unlike Cribb and he is an exemplary player. Both also went on to suggest that he only ended up standing on Glover’s head because of confusion over how the referee was ruling things at the ruck and breakdown. Now I could probably pull out any NPC game this season where Cribb has played and show you an example of over-vigorous rucking, not to mention he’d already been suspended earlier in the season for brawling and throwing punches in a game. I would suggest that Messrs Jones and Rollerson take a closer look at their entire set-up at Harbour, which is rapidly gaining the reputation as a breeding ground for thuggery in the game, and instead of pointing a finger at the referees try putting their own house in order first.by