RWC 2011: A Brief Word on Red Cards and Spears…

There will be a cold light of day moment to go through Wales’ defeat against France today, but just q quick entry is required now, as I am in bewilderment at the volume of needling little oiks out there who think that the red carding of Sam Warburton was justified. Plenty have been citing IRB regulations, and fair to do so, so let’s cast an eye over them quickly:

 •The player is lifted and then forced or “speared” into the ground. A red card should be issued for this type of tackle.

 •The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the player’s safety. A red card should be issued for this type of tackle.

 •For all other types of dangerous lifting tackles, it may be considered a penalty or yellow card is sufficient.

Most of the Irish referring fan society have been pointing to the second point here, yet in reality, and as is the consensus in most of the rational rugby watching world, point three, and only point three was applicable. Warburton certainly did not force or spear the Frenchman into the ground, on that there is general acceptance. Dropped with no regard for safety though, this one is getting more support. Yet no Frenchman was dropped. Warburton was in control of his tackled man from start to finish. It was a tip tackle. The player raised during the momentum of the tackle, tipped over that key point of horizontal, and was guided to the ground. What Warburton did matches the description of neither points 1 or 2. This was a yellow card offence, at most, more likely a penalty.

Rolland made a rash call, and his retirement will not be missed, given that he has now not only ruined the Rugby World Cup for Welsh fans and players alike, but any purest who enjoys rugby played at its best. France do not offer this, have not offered this, and will not offer this. The worst team won, and Rolland’s shocking interpretation of the laws (not for the first time it should be added) are the primary, if indeed not the sole, reason for this development.

Finally – for all those licking at the heels of Rolland, if you want to see a game where Warburton’s tackle is worthy of a red card, then say goodbye to rugby. There was no malice, and no lack of control, no one went in to hurt anyone, and no one came out hurt. It happens in rugby, and will continue to happen – support that red card as a precedent upon which the future of the game will be run, and you can wave goodbye to realistic contests, if Rolland had his way, you would have a red card at least once a game, for the most innocuous of offences. Ruin the game if you must, because supporting this action will only result in that for the sport formerly known as Rugby Union.

    • Norman Stevens
    • October 15th, 2011
    • Look at that in real time, he is under control as much as possible – it’s not as if the player is being thrown over space. Warburton is with him, arms around – how Rolland spots the tiny amount of space between arm and tackled player is remarkable, if not impossible. Like I say, a red card for this sets a dangerous precendent for the game.

    • Norman Stevens
    • October 15th, 2011

    Look at the photo.

    Vincent Clerc is still 6 inches off the ground and Warbuton’s hands are going for the ball.

    • Yep, we’ve all seen the frame by frame shots – play this game with 50% of tackles made and you’ll see the same thing. He loses contact for miliseconds in real time. Apply this to all the game and you’ll be sending off 5 players a match. Warburton is still with him throughout, trying to control the situation, nothing reckless, doing all he can to stay in touch…still a red? Farcical!

    • milowokie
    • October 15th, 2011

    Looks like he’s on the ground to me.

    Granted not all of him, but he’s in contact with the ground.

    • Exactly, enough remains in contact throughout the tackle to make the red card a nonsense. Yellow, fine, red, farce.

    • Jean Paul Deux
    • October 15th, 2011

    It’s a clear red cart, allow tackle like this and we will have 2 or 3 players with broken neck every year !

    • Yes, the Frenchman is clearly suffering with said broken neck following the incident…

        • Ducmq
        • October 15th, 2011

        Sorry to say this but what you are saying is really stupid. A law is made not only to punish but also to prevent something bad from happening. A child who play with fire might be lucky to not get burn the first or the second time but what about the third or the fourth?

        “Warburton was in control of his tackled man from start to finish” how can he be in control when only his arm is touching Clerc?

        It’s clear that he picks Clerc up turn him upside down and then left him falling. A little bit more or if Clerc did not bend over and his head might be the first thing to touch the ground… And we both know the consequence.

    • chuck
    • October 16th, 2011

    My my, sore losers much?
    Missed kicks, no running game, no kick chase, lost line outs, getting smashed in the scrums etc. etc.

    • Yes, all of which stemmed from having the most essential player in the team off of the field, how you fail to notice this is bizzare…

  1. Those posting in Rolland’s defence here, care to explain how the New Zealand wing failed to just get sent off in the semi final, for the exact same thing as Warburton. Tipped his man over horizontal, let go in mid air, failed to bring him to ground, the same if not worse! Ref call – ‘play on’.

      • Ducmq
      • October 16th, 2011

      lol there are so much explanations possibles: The Ref didn’t clearly see what happen, or he’s scared that he might end up like Alain Rolland who is being insulted just because he follow the law. Or he decided that the match is more important than the health of a player etc There are so many reasons, why does it HAS to be Rolland make a wrong decision? Just admit it, you are from Wales which make you the last objective person in this world, on the other hand I’m Vietnamese.

      • Okay, you’re right, I am in no position to pass judgement, perhaps ask Ben Foden, and Mark Cueto from their twitter feeds: English internationals in full agreement, they should be pretty unbiased no?

        “Rolland u’ve had a shocker…. Not the first time either!!! We’re not here to watch u…. (England wing Mark Cueto)
        “Should have been a yellow but never a red, poor Sam he’s been the heart and soul of Wales! (England full-back Ben Foden)

    • Norman Stevens
    • October 16th, 2011

    So why did he get a three week ban if the tackle was innocuous?

    • He should have got a 6 week ban if it was a red card for what it was – the shortness of the ban indicates that the IRB really dont stand by the decision, again, check your regulations, if the IRB were committing to that being a red card, we should not be seeing Warburton play for over a month.

    • Tim
    • October 18th, 2011

    The only red card given for a dangerous tackle in the WHOLE RWC. How can that be explained and yet –

    The only other red card given for a punch to Williams of Samoa…

    The IRB have made huge mistakes during this RWC. The reffing standards being the biggest – just watch a replay of the Aus Vs SA game and see what the Aussies got away with in front of the ref…

    The whole thing is a joke.

    • Very much in agreement here. I’m not sure at the end of this world cup, if I’m more upset by the red card for Warburton, or the fact there has been no consistency it the on-field punishment for the same tackle throughout the cup. Some have been shown yellow, some penalised, some overlooked all together as fair tackles. We hear plenty about the this IRB directive telling refs to red card the offence, yet why on earth did they only (seemingly) start applying it during the Wales match (and then forget about it in the New Zealand semi where the same thing happened). From one ref to another, it may as well have been a different tournament every time.

      Glad Joubert is in charge of the final – best and most consistent official throughout.

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