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Lima reignites tackling debate
Brian Lima, known as 'The Chiropractor', returns to the Samoa side against England.
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2007 12:32 GMT

Brian Lima, centre, is helped from the field after a big-hit gone wrong against South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]

Brian Lima, the Samoan rugby player known as 'The Chiropractor' for his bone-jarring defensive style, returns to the Samoa lineup against England for the Rugby World Cup Pool A match in Nantes on Saturday, reigniting the debate about tackling in rugby.
Michael Jones, Samoa coach and former All Black, lamented that the game had become "too sanitised" and was frustrated that his players had been forced to tone down their physical approach after a crackdown by World Cup officials.
Jones said the game was turning so soft that he would encourage his son to play rugby league instead.
 
Opposing views suggest that challenges such as Lima's hit on South African Andre Pretorius in Samoa's opening Pool A match are highly dangerous, have no place in the game and are the real reason why parents might want to steer their children away.
 
Lima has earned a justified reputation for hard tackling, even among the big hitters of the Pacific islands, and his destruction of airborne Springbok flyhalf Derick Hougaard was one of the iconic images of the 2003 World Cup.
 
The first, and last, contribution from Lima, who came on as a second-half substitute against South Africa in Paris, was to launch himself almost horizontally at Pretorius in a tackle that was more of a flying head-butt, resulting in knocking himself out and luckily not causing his opponent any significant injury.
 

"Traditionally, Samoans hit hard with a lot of impact. Bodies are flying but the collisions often look far worse than they are."

Michael Jones, Samoa coach

He returned immediately to the bench and was forced to miss the next game against Tonga, his first absence in five World Cups.
 
That Lima escaped any punishment or a subsequent citing, especially in the light of Schalk Burger's initial four-match ban for a late hit in the same match, provoked outrage in South Africa.
 
Others of a more neutral persuasion were also unimpressed.
 
"Everybody loves Lima... but the sugary sweetness with which he was welcomed on and waved off the pitch within minutes cloaks the reality of Samoa," Stuart Barnes, former England flyhalf, wrote in the Sunday Times.
 
"There is an element of political correctness in the way the rugby world allows the savage swinging arms which are the trademark of the South Pacific."
 
No malice intended
 
Jones, unsurprisingly, sees it differently.
 
"You've got to take the brutality out of the game and I'm all for that but there is a danger of it being over-sanitised," he said.
 
"Traditionally, Samoans hit hard with a lot of impact. Bodies are flying but the collisions often look far worse than they are. There's no malice in a lot of our tackling.
 
"We are having to change our style, to tone it down a bit. It goes against the grain. This is part of our DNA, we are wired to tackle hard, but you just can't afford to now.
 
"It's getting to the point where I'd think about telling my son to go play rugby league. It's getting to the point where I might well have opted to play rugby league myself."
 
And as far as trying to tone down Lima, Jones recognises a pointless task when he sees one.
 
"We trust him, he's been playing this game longer than most of us have," he said.
 
"I'm not going to change his tackling at this stage."
Source:
Agencies
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