Sport: 5 of the most clumsy, cynical and downright awful tackles we’ve seen in sport

Originally published by, Thursday 8th August, 2013. To read the original, please click here

Sean Cavanagh’s rugby tackle on a goal- hungry Conor McManus during last weekend’s All- Ireland SFC Quarter Final between Tyrone and Monaghan was a new low for An Cluiche Álainn.

 so the debate on Sean Cavanagh’s rugby tackle in Croke Park during last weekend’s SFC All Ireland quarter-final rumbles on.

RTÉ pundit and All- Ireland Senior Football medalist Joe Brolly sensationally tore Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh to shreds after the Tyrone man performed a typically cynical tackle on Monaghan’s Conor McManus, dragging the Monaghan forward down to the ground during a potential goal- scoring opportunity. Cavanagh’s tackle, which, sadly, we have now come to expect from Tyrone, would have been more at home on a rugby pitch rather than a GAA pitch.

All that said, such cynical tackling isn’t unique to GAA, unfortunately. Here, we look at some horrendously cynical tackles across other sports.

The Spear Tackle on Brian O’Driscoll

Cynical tackling doesn’t get more cynical than the spear tackle performed on Brian Driscoll during the 2005 Lions tour. At the very top of his game, O’Driscoll was, at that time, undoubtedly the world’s best player. Targeted from the outset, the spear tackle executed on O’Driscoll must be one of the worst incidents ever recorded in the game. Forever a talking point among supporters and pundits, it’s an incident in O’Driscoll’s illustrious career, which the star centre refuses to speak about, to this day.

Roy Keane’s tackle on Alfie Håland

Perhaps the worst tackle seen in Premiership history. The notoriously tough and ruthless Keane, without doubt the best midfielder of his generation, sullied his stellar footballing career with this horrendously high tackle on Håland’s right knee. Keane, it seems, was gaining revenge after Håland accused Keane of an attempted foul and feigning injury after Keane damage his anterior cruciate ligament in Elland Road in 1997. Håland never played a full, 90- minute game again and he has since implied that Keane’s tackle was, ultimately, responsible for his retirement from football. Keane, for his part, admitted in his explosive autobiography that he fully intended to injure Håland.

John Terry’s Tackle on James Milner

Perhaps not as vicious, John Terry’s tackle on James Milner was an incredibly excessive and clumsy tackle by, perhaps, the single most controversial Premiership player of the modern era. Recklessly sliding in and catching fellow England international player Milner on the shin with his studs, Terry’s excessive challenge landed him a yellow when, perhaps, a red would have been more than deserved.

Leonardo elbow on Tab Ramos, 1994 World Cup

Bizarrely, the some of the most cynical tackles in sport happen in the glare of the World Cup. Arguably the most watched and closely followed sporting event outside of the Olympics, almost every World Cup has had a cynical and controversial tackle that has proved one the talking points of the tournament. Leonardo’s uncharacteristic flash of anger towards Tab Ramos during the Brazil resulted in a red card for the Brazilian while US soccer player Ramos lay on the ground with a fractured skull.

Benjamin Massing’s tackle on Claudio Caniggia, 1990 World Cup

It’s easy to forget, but Claudio Caniggia was one of Argentina’s finest players in a country that seems to consistently churn out fast, skillful, world- class players. Unsurprising, then, when Benjamin Massing tried to take him out of the Argentina – Cameroon game after two players had already attempted to take him out. An inevitable red card for Massing in the final minute of the game.

2 thoughts on “Sport: 5 of the most clumsy, cynical and downright awful tackles we’ve seen in sport

  1. Schumacher on Battiston in the World Cup semi-final of 82 would probably make the top 5 for me, probably in place of the Terry one. But otherwise, can’t argue with the other four!


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