Tom Wood, Liam Williams’ head and similar incidents

Welsh players were seemingly dropping by the minute during the recent England Wales encounter but amongst the chaos the reason why Liam Williams was carried off with a serious head injury seemed to be ignored.

The two vines below show the incident from a couple of different angles but they clearly show Tom Wood’s boot or lower leg making contact with Liam Williams’ head.

View from the side:

View from behind:

What the world of Twitter thinks

The incident has certainly captured the attention of supporters with over a quarter of a million loops in less than twenty four hours. The view on the incident on theblitzdefence Twitter timeline covered the full spectrum from it being an accidental knock during the heat of battle to it being a deliberate attempt to harm the player, but approximately three quarters believe this incident should be reviewed.

We will let others opine on this but we do know from other cases that an act doesn’t have to be intentional for the citing bodies to get involved. Here are a couple of other examples.

Toulon’s Tomain Taofifenua banned for three weeks for kicking Ulster’s Stuart Olding in the head

This incident occurred during a Champions’ Cup game in 2014 and Taofifenua was Taofifenua was cited by the match Citing Commissioner for contravening Law 10.4 (c), Kicking an opponent. A player must not kick an opponent.

As Taofifenua attempted to kick the ball at a ruck his foot made contact with Olding’s head as he lay on the ground. The incident can be seen here.

The full hearing decision is here but some interesting points to highlight in the conclusion are that the Judicial Officer was satisfied that:

“…the layer was making a genuine attempt to play the ball with his foot”, and;

“…he did not intentionally or deliberately kick out at SO’s head or any other part of his body”

Ulster’s Luke Marshall was banned for 5 weeks for kicking Scarlet’s Michael Tagicakibau in a 2015 PRO12 fixture

See video of incident here.

“After listening to representations by and on behalf of the player, and viewing television footage of the incident, the committee found Marshall “had committed an act of foul play which would have warranted a red card”.

“The committee found that there were no aggravating factors, and after taking into account various mitigating factors including the player’s unblemished playing record, the committee reduced the entry point by three weeks and imposed a five-week suspension,” a Pro12 statement read.

Nathan Hughes on Northampton’s George North

In this example during a Wasps, Northampton clash the Wasps number 8 was sent off for making contact with North as he scored a try. The 3 week initial ban was served by the RFU’s head of independent rugby judiciary claiming “recklessness” trumped any lack of intention on Hughes’ part.


In the subsequent appeal the chairman Jeremy Summers overturned that decision and rescinded Hughes’ red card, ruling “no act of foul play took place in that the incident occurred accidentally”.

Watch the incident here:

Samson Lee’s boot makes contact with Danny Care at ruck in 2013

In this incident the judicial officer determined Lee was going for the ball, but in doing so, the player’s boot “made contact with Care’s face in a reckless manner, and that in his opinion, the offence warranted a red card”.

Lee was banned for 2 weeks for the offence.

Will Wood be cited?

Wood wasn’t cited. The Citing Commissioner decided that the offence was worth a “warning”, which equates to a yellow card. The link to the full explanation document can be found here.

Wood can consider himself very lucky given the precedent set by similar “reckless”, rather than intentional incidents over the last few years. The outcome also shines the spotlight on the seemingly inconsistent way on-field transgressions are dealt with by rugby’s citing and disciplinary procedures.

World Rugby’s statement gave no clear indication why the Citing Commissioner came to the conclusion he did.

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One thought on “Tom Wood, Liam Williams’ head and similar incidents

  1. Pingback: Tom Wood, Liam Williams’ head and similar incidents | WelshBiz WordPress Blog

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