Richard Cockerill furious with ‘nasty’ tackle on George Taylor

Scarlets second-row Joe Helps was given a red-card on Sunday night for a high challenge on George Taylor which left the Edinburgh man with serious facial injuries

Scarlets second-row Josh Helps is shown the red card for his high tackle on Edinburgh's George Taylor. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scarlets second-row Josh Helps is shown the red card for his high tackle on Edinburgh's George Taylor. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

RICHARD COCKERILL says the tackle by Scarlets second-row Josh Helps which caused serious facial injuries to Edinburgh utility-back George Taylor during Sunday night’s PRO14 clash was “as nasty as you’ll see” and “something that we need to get rid of in the game”.

Helps was red-carded in the 61st minute of the match and will now go through the PRO14’s disciplinary process, while Taylor faces a lengthy lay-off while he recuperates.

“He [Taylor] got a broken jaw, a broken cheekbone and a broken nose, so he’s having surgery as soon as possible, and we’re probably looking at between eight and 12 weeks back to play,” explained Cockerill.

“[It was a] pretty nasty one, to be honest,” he continued. “I know there was lots of comment at the time around there was no intent, etcetera, but if you lead with your head, which effectively is pretty much a flying head-butt, really, you’re going to cause damage.

“That’s Scarlets’ third red card for the same offence in three games. Look, the disciplinary process will take its course, but we’ve got a player with basically a broken face who won’t play now for at least two, potentially three, months.

“It’s a nasty tackle, and it’s as nasty as you’ll see, and it’s something that we need to get rid of in the game.”

Cockerill came through the school of hard knocks at Leicester as a player, and has a reputation as an old-style rugby coach in terms of the rough and tumble of the game, but he believes a line has to be drawn between being hard and being recklessly dangerous.

“There are accidents and there are mitigating circumstances, but, in this case, I just don’t understand what the player was trying to do, if I’m honest,” he said. “He’s come across, he’s high the whole time, so was our player, upright, and he’s just led with his head straight into someone’s face.

 

“He’s a young player, obviously, and players make errors, but it looked … what’s he trying to do? If it wasn’t intentional, what is he actually trying to do? Because I don’t know, and the ultimate fact is that you have a very nasty clash of heads – the top of his head into the cheekbone and eye-socket area of George Taylor, and it’s a serious injury.

“If you did that anywhere else but a sporting field, you’d be in serious trouble, wouldn’t you? I don’t want to see it in the game, I want to protect our players, and I think the game has a responsibility to punish appropriately. That process will take its course at some point.”

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Taylor is making good progress in his recovery, while Cockerill is unhappy about an apparent lack of contrition from Helps for his role in seriously hurting an opposition player.

“George is doing well,” said the coach. “I spoke to him yesterday – he’s recovering and starting to feel better. He was heavily concussed. Having had scans he knows the extent of the damage, so we move on and do everything we can to fix that.

“As far as I’m aware, there was no apology at the time or since. Even when the player was leaving the field, he was shaking his head as if to say that was the wrong decision.

“Like I say, the authorities will deal with it as they see fit and we’re waiting to see what that is.”

The incident and consequences of it for Edinburgh in terms of losing another player from their already threadbare squad inevitably took the shine off what was otherwise a good day for Cockerill and his team, in which they battled to their first win of the 2020-21 PRO14 season.

“It was a good win. It was a win that we could have had at Munster as well. We’d been playing reasonably well: we just hadn’t been finishing games off,” said Cockerill.

“The game could still have gone either way. The players worked very hard. There were still lots of guys missing. It will give us some confidence – always nice to win. To come in on a Wednesday morning for our first day of training and to review a game on the back of a win is great.

“Winning gives you confidence. Winning’s a habit, and we’re happy that we’ve broken the losing streak we were in, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore.”

More to follow at 10pm.


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2212 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

12 Comments

  1. The lad rolls then extends his neck as he goes into the tackle, you see it clearly on slow-motion – I don’t recall ever doing or being coached this as part of tackling technique. It was 100% intentional, as Cockerill puts it “a flying head-butt” and he ought to be cited.

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  2. John has a point, having looked at the incident I dont think theres any malice. Poorly executed tackle, lack of control in the tackle, yes, malicious, no.

    That said I would hope that an apology has been given by the player.

    As for cockers, he has far too much to say at times. Might be entertaining but he needs to address why Edinburgh keep bottling the big occasion and less time fermenting grudge and grievance

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  3. It was bloody clumsy, reckless and deserved a red but Cockerill suggesting that punishment for this dodgy tackle should be similar to a rage induced assault in the street is a bit OTT. I’m sure he’ll have a very different view if/when one day it’s one of his players who is the culprit in a similar incident. Having been in similar situations, I think it’s much more likely that Taylor’s head shaking Indicates disappointment with himself and that he’s let his team mates and coaches down, rather than disputing that he deserved a red card.

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  4. Cockerill has it bang on here. An absolute disgrace. The perpetrator should also be tested for ‘roids if he appears to think his actions were acceptable. That could have been a “king hit”, as the aussies call it, with consequences that don’t bear thinking about. Or maybe they do at a disciplinary panel.

    It looks like “attritional” is going to be the word to describe this season. Dare say a few Super 6ers will want to keep themselves as fit as possible!

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  5. Edinburgh should offer Alex Dunbar a short term contract, as I believe he is currently looking for a club.

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  6. Richard Cockerill needs to look at his own behaviour. There was no malice and it could even be argued that Taylor stepped in and made the impact worse.
    As was said during the Glasgow game, there’s a habit creeping into rugby of players looking to have opponents carded. Coaches need to stop being part of it. I look forward to Scottish Rugby dealing with Cockerill for bringing the game into disrepute.

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    • Cobblers and whataboutery, Mr. Evans. Sometimes a coach has to stick up for their players. Sometimes, he or she will have to speak up for an action which will benefit the future if the game as a whole. Regardless of his motivation, Cockerill is doing both here.

      Even if you think there was no malice (I think there was, but you appear to know there wasn’t), the message should be sent out loud and clear that recklessness or appalling technique which is likely to lead to serious injury will be punished severely.

    • Broken cheekbone, broken jaw and broken nose.

      And you blame the victim?

      Your comment is unworthy of serious consideration Mr Evans.

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  7. Richard Cockerill needs to look at his own behaviour. There was no malice and it could even be argued that Taylor stepped in and made the impact worse.
    As was said during the Glasgow game, there’s a habit creeping into rugby of players looking to have opponents carded. Coaches need to stop being part of it. I look forward to Scottish Rugby dealing with Cockerill for bringing the game into disrepute.

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