The European disciplinary season has started with a bang – or rather, a stamping, a kneeing and a couple of dangerously dodgy tackles. "Allegedly", as they say in all the best satirical shows. Four international players – the Canada lock Jamie Cudmore, the Wales flanker Martyn Williams, the New Zealand centre Sam Tuitupou and the Samoa loose forward Jonny Fa'amatuainu – have been accused of violent transgressions during the opening round of the Heineken Cup at the weekend and will appear before tribunals in Dublin tomorrow.
Cudmore, hardly a stranger to such proceedings, faces a charge of stamping on the face of the outstanding Namibian flanker Jacques Burger in the closely fought Clermont Auvergne-Saracens match in France. Burger needed stitches in a mouth wound and was, according to Sarries sources, as angry as they had ever seen him when he left the field for treatment.
Williams is charged with dropping his knee into the face of the Edinburgh full-back Chris Paterson during Cardiff Blues' narrow victory in Pool One, while Tuitupou, who scored what may turn out to be a crucial late try for Munster at London Irish on Saturday evening, has predictably been cited for dumping the Exiles' scrum-half Paul Hodgson head-first into the turf – an offence for which he served time in the sin bin. As for Fa'amatuainu, he stands accused of subjecting the Perpignan wing Adrien Planté to an illegal tackle as Scarlets registered their bonus-point win in Pool Five.
Rather more seriously, news has emerged in South Africa of a knife attack on the former England coach John Mitchell, although it takes more than a nasty case of aggravated burglary to drive the former All Black flanker out of town. As tough and committed as anyone during his playing days, the 46-year-old intends to continue his work in Johannesburg with the Golden Lions provincial side, despite being stabbed twice during a break-in at his apartment in the city – an assault that left him in need of hospital treatment for wounds to his thigh and upper arm.
"I'm still very committed to the Lions," insisted Mitchell, whose team has made much-needed progress at domestic Currie Cup level since he joined them from the Australian Super 14 franchise Western Force earlier in the year. "I need to make sure I am totally secure where I live: it's not nice waking up and having to defend your life. But this is a beautiful country, I won't let this deter me."
Mitchell, who coached New Zealand at the 2003 World Cup, underwent trauma counselling after the incident. "It was very beneficial," he said. "I now have a process to work through by myself. This was a very unfortunate incident and I wouldn't wish it on any other person. I'm not feeling great, but my injuries are not too bad: I thank God they missed the artery in my leg when they stabbed me. I can't dwell on it. I need to move forward."Reuse content