Red cardBy Roger Childs

Ruining matches

Rugby fans were reminded on Saturday how red cards affect match results. When Scott Barrett was ejected from the Bledisloe Cup match in Perth in the 39th minute, the game was effectively gifted to the Wallabies. 

At the time of the All Black lock’s dismissal from the field of play, the score was 13-12 to Australia and a close contest was in prospect in the second half. There was certainly plenty of entertainment in the second forty minutes, however the cards were heavily stacked in favour of the home side. And so it proved as the Wallabies ran out winners by 47-26.

The impact of other red cards 

red card 2Back in the 2011 World Cup semi-final in Wellington, a moment of idiocy by Sam Warburton denied the Welsh the anticipated victory. The captain was banished for upended a French player in a spear tackle early in the game, and although the Welsh battled gamely, in the end they couldn’t win a place in the final against the All Blacks.

Then in 2017 in the second test against the British Lions, Sonny Bill Williams, with a stupid shoulder charge on winger Anthony Watson in the first half, left his side with only 14 men. With just six backs to defend against the Lions seven, it was only a matter of time before the All Blacks lost the lead and the match.

A modest proposal

This comes from rugby aficionado, Raumati resident Tony Fraei. His idea is to punish the offending player and disadvantage his/her team, but only for a short time. The process would be as follows –

  • The red-carded player is out of the match.
  • The team cannot replace him for ten minutes.
  • After then a substitute can come on.
  • The dismissed player would still appear before the judiciary.

Under this system, there would be a short term disadvantage for the offending team, but they would be restored to 15 players after ten minutes. Consequently, the probability that the opponents would win the match with their extra man would be neutralised. 

The other major advantage would be that the spectators would get a contest with both teams a full strength. 

This suggestion for changing the red card rules, in my view, makes a lot of sense.