JD tackle deserves further investigation

Based on the video evidence in this post, Tank Lanning believes it impossible to argue against at least further investigation into Irne Herbst’s tackle on JD Schickerling in Saturday’s U21 game at Loftus.

Western Province Under-21 lock JD Schickerling suffered a compression fracture of his neck in the 4th minute of the Absa Under-21 clash against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Schickerling was injured just after catching a ball from a kick-off when Bulls lock Irne Herbst’s shoulder collided with Schickerling’s head. Afterwards, the other Bulls lock, Marvin Orie, grabbed the WP player in a headclamp before hurling him to the ground.

Orie has been asked to attend an official SARU disciplinary committee, while Herbst was issued an off-field yellow card by SARU citing commissioner Yolanda Meiring. This after the WPRU asked for the incident to be reviewed. Referee Jaco Kotze refused to ask the TMO to get involved, despite there being a 10 minute break as Schickerling was carried from the field, and being asked by WP skipper Eital Bredenkamp to do so.

Take a look at the incident form the front:

And a look at the tackle from the reverse angle:

How the referee refused to get the TMO involved in the first place is beyond me, and given the above footage, it seems pretty obvious to me that both Herbst and Orie should be part of a SARU disciplinary committee investigating this tragic passage of play.

These shoulder charges, tackling without arms, and the pulling of players by the neck are becoming common place in modern day rugby, and it cannot be long before an even more serious injury occurs.

I am not saying Herbst did this on purpose, but there has to be a chance, and given the injury suffered by Schickerling, an enquiry seems the obvious path to follow.


  1. The interference by the IRB at the breakdown has been focussed on, ‘on the ground’ activity, allowing players to play the ball in the tackle, where their head is positioned below their hips when doing it. All this was focussed around the intention of stopping rucking with feet, but they have completely missed that players now take the full force of on coming players, not only on the back of their necks, but in a charge confrontation rather than an informal scrum, as it was before they stopped rucking. Unless we get back to the ‘loose scrum’ environment more injuries will occur. High tackling is frowned upon, but one can yank someone off their feet at the breakdown by grabbing them by the neck? This has happened largely because players no longer form a proper loose scrum at the breakdown and often the confrontations here become uneven contests in nature as players don’t commit to the maul anymore, we now have props acting as centres.

    1. Great point re the focus by the IRB on what’s happening on the ground leading to the game happening a few feet off the ground and thus bring it’s own injury worries …

  2. This is a tough video to watch. Best wishes to JD for a speedy recovery.

    From his facial expression it looks like JD was in some distress after the initial shoulder charge from Herbst, which seemed to catch JD’s head in an awkward position and drive it down on to his chest. It can’t have helped that Opie then grabbed JD around the neck, and the maul then collapsed at some speed.

    His act may not have been intended to cause the damage it did, but Herbst should receive a ban for some time to reflect on his actions.

    The lawmakers have correctly addressed the blight of the spear tackle by getting refs to tighten up and putting the onus on the tackler to put the tackled player down with care. They have correctly outlawed the ‘hit’ at scrum-time. They should act in similar vein to clamp down on any act which attacks the head or neck. Players should have a positive duty of care to avoid attacking the head (eyes included) & neck. Two examples in the modern game where you see instances of the head/neck being attacked with insufficient intervention by refs are (i) ‘cleaning’ at rucks, and (ii) the delightfully named ‘choke tackle’ (an awful expression which must put shivers down the spine of those trying to market this beloved game of ours.)

    Ours is a contact sport but there are limits.

    1. Agreed. Obviously we do not want to turn the game into ballet, but the breakdown, cleaning out and neck holds are going to do a player serious damage sooner rather than later …

  3. Postscript:

    I see Orie got a week’s ban for tackling JD around the neck.

    It says “In his findings judicial officer Tokkie van Zyl said it was highly improbable that Orie’s actions could have caused a serious neck injury. … In his judgement Van Zyl said: “No medical or factual evidence was placed before me with regards to exactly when and how the opponent sustained the neck injury.”

    Ok, so Orie has been dealt with and rightly so.

    Now they must cite Herbst and investigate his actions, which look to me from the video to be more serious than Orie’s.

    But will they?

  4. Volenti fit non injuria is the legal foundation for competing in all sport. What it means is that you consent to the risks of playing the game. It does NOT cover actions which are outside of the rules of the game. The fact that they have issued an off the field yellow is pretty damning in this event. If JD never plays rugby again – on doctor’s advice – Herbst, Orrie and their employer are going to have to pay his loss of earnings. (which will be no small sum)

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