Izzy cited as rugby rule debate rages on
WALLABIES star Israel Folau will face a World Rugby disciplinary hearing after being cited for his conduct during Australia's 20-16 loss to Ireland in Sydney on Saturday.
Folau was controversially sent to the sinbin for making contact in the air with Irish captain Peter O'Mahony from a kick restart in the 31st minute but was cited for a second incident involving the same player in the ninth minute.
The citing commissioner, New Zealand's Michael O'Leary, said Folau had "placed his left hand on O'Mahony's chest," which as a result had pulled the flanker "over and he topples to the ground".
O'Leary added that the incident was "strikingly similar" to the yellow card offence and was handed a warning by World Rugby.
As Folau received a yellow card as well as a citing commissioner warning, a disciplinary hearing is required as per World Rugby regulation 17.
No date has been set for the hearing.
O'Mahony played no further part in the match after landing on his back following the Folau yellow card.While contact was made by the Australian fullback, the incident was made worse by the fact that O'Mahony's teammate, man of the match CJ Stander, dropped him after lifting him high into the air to catch the restart.
The issue of aerial challenges is one of the biggest grey areas in rugby.
Last week, French fullback Benjamin Fall was sent off for making contact with All Black Beauden Barrett in the air.
But World Rugby later said that Australian referee Angus Gardner got the decision wrong.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was asked about that contentious area of the game following the third Test loss to Ireland.
"The key word today is clear and obvious," Cheika said.
"I don't know anything that is clear and obvious in a game of footy.
"Look at Angus last week, I really felt for him.
"He made a decision based on the rules that they give him and they took away a red card, and basically said you made the wrong call.
"I'm not sure how you can clarify it any more or any less, to be honest.
"Rugby, there's no black and white in this game, there's a lot of grey and it's about the interpretation in the grey.
"I don't know how they could clarify it."
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he could understand World Rugby's tough stance to protect player safety.
But he added it was important that rugby maintained its tough, physical and competitive edge.
"They've got to look after players," Schmidt said.
"I think the rescinded red card on Benjamin Fall was not due to the battle in the air, it was the battle on the ground and he got knocked slightly by one of the All Blacks.
"Most people, and Israel Folau is freakishly good at it, most people use a three-step jump, they're going up and they get their rhythm into the jump with three steps and if you get knocked off balance that can affect things.
"But once a player is up and he's lifted and you do grab him, whether you win the ball or not, you're running the risk
"That's the nature of the game these days.
"I know the reason is well founded because we want player safety as best as we can get it, but at the same time we've got to keep that competitive element as much as we can."