Greg Holmes’s 50-metre sprint for a memorable try against Ireland shouldn’t have happened – and not just because props aren’t supposed to be able to run that far or fast.

That try has already become the matches’ lasting memory and none of the rugby press seems interested in looking into how it became possible. Maybe it’s because nobody wants to rain on the promising young prop’s parade, or maybe it’s because the reason isn’t very nice.

It should be looked at, though, as glossing over the incident could cause trouble for the Wallabies down the track. There’s a fine line between what the SMH‘s Greg Growden euphemistically called “Lote Tuqiri’s thunderous tackle on Andrew Trimble” and a red or yellow card – pumping up Tuqiri’s damaging defence could push him closer to that line.

Tuqiri’s effort on Trimble looked suspiciously like a spear tackle. If any number of other refs had the whistle on Saturday night, there would have at least been a penalty to Ireland instead of the Holmes try. The Irish defence foolishly assumed the ref would blow and some felt the urge to communicate with Tuqiri about it. (They’re a bit sensitive about that sort of thing since Tana Umaga finished Brian O’Driscoll’s Lions tour with a similar tactic.) That’s how the prop got away.

The Irish were the most gracious of visitors, only paying compliments afterwards when they could reasonably have had a whinge about that tackle. Some commentators reckon the Holmes try was the turning point of the match.

The hyping of Tuqiri’s strong defence in the past two tests runs the risk of creating dangerous expectations. He is too important a weapon to risk having yellow carded – and spear tackles are too dangerous to have any part in the game.

Peter Fray

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