As Cal rugby begins its fall season, the hit that paralyzed Robert Paylor last season is back in the news after World Rugby’s decision not to further penalize any players for the play.
In Cal’s national championship match against Arkansas State, Paylor’s neck was severely bent as players crushed him in a maul. A USA rugby investigation was initiated after calls from Paylor’s family and Cal rugby head coach Jack Clark, and a World Rugby citing commissioner reportedly determined that although the play was reckless, there was no intent to injure and there was no justification for a red card.
On Oct. 1, Robert’s parents, Debbie and Jeff, took to Facebook to criticize both the time it took for the investigation to come to a conclusion and the failure to censure the behavior in the hopes of stopping actions like this in the future. “Without this incident deemed as illegal contact and disciplinary measures taken, it constitutes this action as excusable,” the statement read. They also stated that “neither the coach nor player responsible for this injury from Arkansas State have sent any condolences or concerns personally to Robert.”
The post also included stills and videos from the play that paralyzed Paylor in an attempt to show that if there had been no intent, the Arkansas State player’s arm who was holding Paylor’s head in an awkward position should have released before hitting the ground.
Clark shared in condemning the decision. “The USA Rugby decision is shameful and without merit,” Clark said in an email to the East Bay Times. “The evidence clearly shows a lengthy flagrant penalty. Dangerous play such as this will result in serious injury more times than not. USA Rugby has failed Robert and failed the game.”