The All Blacks have a nervous wait over a potential citing for captain Kieran Read after their thrashing of Canada, with media raising alarm bells over a seemingly no-arms tackle.

Midway through the first half of Wednesday’s 63-0 victory, Read is seen to dive low to bring down Lucas Rumball, with images suggesting his shoulder connected with the Canada flanker’s head.

Read was penalised but while the match officials took the matter no further, the citing commissioner has 36 hours to review the incident.

New Zealand media expressed serious concern, with the New Zealand Herald asking: “Could Kieran Read cop big World Cup ban? All Blacks captain faces nervous wait after dangerous tackle against Canada.”

In a story headlined “Citing for ABs skipper?”, said while mitigating factors can reduce a sanction for a head knock, “it looks tough to find any in Read’s case”.

In an effort to minimise concussions, World Rugby has taken a near zero-tolerance approach to blows to the head at the World Cup and already Australia’s Reece Hodge, Samoa’s Motu Matu’u and Rey Lee-Lo, the US’s John Quill and Uruguay’s Facundo Gattas have received three-week suspensions for dangerous tackles.

When reviewing contact with the head, officials consider whether the degree of danger was high or low and whether there were any mitigating circumstances that could reduce the punishment from a red card to a yellow or just a penalty.

Social media has lit up over the Read tackle, as happened after the All Blacks’ opening game against SA when images appeared to show cheap shots by the captain and prop Joe Moody.

Coach Steve Hansen said then he was not bothered by what appeared on social media and he had faith in rugby’s established protocols surrounding illegal play.

“There’s a judicial system that’s been in place for a long time in rugby … We’re not judged by social media,” he said.

Prop forward Moody said it had been drummed into the players what referees were focusing on, even though in the split seconds of a Test there was little between a legal and illegal tackle.

“It doesn’t really matter now whether it’s a heavy shot and a guy gets knocked out or whether it’s just a graze but you’ve made contact with the head — you’re going to get the same penalty for it,” he said. “There’s a very fine line, especially if the player is falling, ducking low or whatever.”

The All Blacks’ next three games are their remaining Pool B matches against Namibia and Italy and then a quarterfinal.


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