Hit 'em back!
We all know that fighting cannot be condoned on a rugby pitch, and any player who throws a punch or makes a deliberate attack on an opposing player should be sent to the Sin Bin – at least – and in most cases ejected. But what do we do with the player who retaliates? I have seen many fights break out between opposing players, and I have rarely – if ever – known a player not to retaliate.
Asking a rugby player not to retaliate when punched is almost like asking a tiger not to tear through a chunk of meat when hungry. In the heat of the moment, when a player has been maliciously provoked by an opposing player, an official cannot expect that individual to stand by and not defend himself.
Retaliation is one of the slipperiest slopes an official will ever deal with, but I contend an official should not eject a player for responding to a dirty act by an opposing player. Said player deserves some time off the pitch in the Sin Bin, more to "cool down" than to be punished.
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