Rugby union has traditionally been hesitant to make rapid changes, but the intervention of a top Aussie official has sparked a seismic shift ahead of the World Cup in September.
Orange cards will be used by referees at the tournament in France after one of World Rugby’s top officials – Australian Brett Robinson – expressed concern that the World Cup final could be ruined by an incorrect red card.
It comes in the wake of England full-back Freddie Steward being sensationally sent off after a clash with his Irish counterpart Hugo Keenan in a Six Nations match, sparking a wave of uproar.
The card was withdrawn four days later, but the damage was done and England lost 29-16, causing the rugby world to collapse.
To counter that, World Rugby’s head of match officials Joel Jutge confirmed that the game’s governing body is considering introducing an orange card system, which essentially assesses each yellow card to see if it is worthy of an exclusion by view additional images.
The rugby world was outraged when England fullback Freddie Steward (No. 15, pictured) was shown a red card for a collision with his Irish counterpart Hugo Keenan. Four days later, the card was destroyed
Wallabies giant Darcy Swain (left) is shown a yellow card by legendary referee Mathieu Raynal in Australia’s loss to the All Blacks in a Bledisloe Cup clash last year
And that’s thanks to Robinson, who sits on World Rugby’s executive committee, who expressed his very real concerns about a ruined World Cup final, which could take the code years to recover from.
“I just told them, ‘This could happen in a World Cup final and I don’t think the game will ever recover from that, from a reputation point of view,'” he told the club. The Sydney Morning Herald.
The system has already been introduced at Super Rugby Pacific level, where the referee can give a player a yellow card for foul play.
The TV Match Official (TMO) can then watch two replays to see if the foul play is deemed serious enough to warrant a red card, taking the pressure off the on-pitch referees who are quick to make a judgment have to fall at a high rate. -paced, high-pressure game.
But it’s not infallible.
During the Brumbies’ thumping over the Reds last Saturday night, Sevens convert Corey Toole was poked by Queensland striker Angus Blyth.
The lightning fast Sevens conversion, one of the league’s biggest revelations since moving to the 15-man code this season, was collected right in the head after a bombshell.
In harrowing scenes, he was very unsteady on his feet before collapsing into a sitting position while Brumbie’s medical staff attended to him, with concerned teammates watching.
Despite Blyth being subsequently suspended for three weeks, the TMO didn’t see enough of the two replays to confirm it was a red card, and Blyth was allowed to be substituted after serving his 10 minutes on the touchline, although he was able to return yourself not back.
But for the most part, the rule changes at Super Rugby level have had a brilliant effect on both fairness and style of play.
Moana Pasifika’s Michael Curry is booked after the side’s loss to the Crusaders on Friday night in New Zealand
Jutge said the governing body is considering applying a similar system in the World Cup to ensure the game’s biggest spectacle isn’t tarnished by horror officials’ mistakes.
While World Rugby is usually very slow in making changes to the law, this can only happen five months after the World Cup as it is just a change in the way the existing law is administered.
“This (yellow card reviews) is an operation being tested in Super Rugby,” he told French newspaper Midi Olympique.
‘In case of a 50-50 decision, the referee has the option to issue a yellow card so that play can resume as soon as possible, while the TMO has a 10-minute suspension to decide whether this should be converted into a permanent expulsion .
“We would clearly give orange cards.”
Wallabies striker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was sent off in 2020 and handed a four match suspension after collecting an Argentina Santiago Grondona high
Andy Marinos, head of Rugby Australia, supported the plan, citing how successful Super Rugby had been since a seismic shift ahead of this current season.
“The map interpretation needs some calibration,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’ve had yellow on the pitch a few times that either went to red off the pitch or stayed yellow off the pitch and then went through a court process and turned red. I think that’s good.
‘That shows that there is a system and a safety net that can be calibrated. They’re definitely thinking about it and I think it’s really progressive.’
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