Tonga experience too much for Namibia

5 of the Best Tries so far at RWC2015

Scotland beat USA for second RWC win

Japan edge South Africa at the death

England finish strongly to beat Fiji

Pass Around The World with Allianz

Top Three Try Saving Tackles ever!

Richie McCaw reveals breakdown secrets

Sonny Bill Williams warned for big hit

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sam Warburton red card in Rugby World Cup Semi Final

France are through to the Rugby World Cup final following a 9-8 victory over a Welsh team that had their captain red carded in the first half. The decision from referee Alain Rolland has divided rugby fans, with many puzzled by the call.

It's a decision that will be spoken about for many years to come, as Rolland gave Sam Warburton a straight red card for a dangerous tip-tackle on French winger Vincent Clerc. By the letter of the law, Rolland probably got it right, but being a World Cup semi final and going on the consistency shown by refs in the past, it seemed a fairly harsh decision.

"Having looked at it I think we accept that Sam has lifted him. It probably warrants a yellow card under the direction the referees have said about players being lifted," said Warren Gatland.

"But he lets him go. He doesn't drive him into the ground. The player was fine to carry on. The thing that surprises me is the reaction of the referee is instant and I thought an experienced referee at that stage would have said 'hang on a minute, let's bring the touchies in'... they would have had a chance to look at the screen and see the replay and perhaps made a cool judgment.

"But that just came out of the blue ... for an experienced referee to make such a crook decision in a semifinal of the World Cup ... I just thought that decision ruined that semifinal," he added.

French coach Mark Lievremont said he felt Warburton deserved to be sent off. "I was quite disappointed that a semifinal match became unbalanced so quickly, but it was a very dangerous tackle that deserved a red card," he said.

Wales somehow managed to compete despite being down to 14 for the majority of the game as the French failed to lift their intensity, and had it been for better goal kicking and decision making from the Welsh, the result could have easily been so different.

Warburton now faces the prospect of being banned for up to 10 weeks under the IRB regulations. If the red card decision is upheld, he will face a suspension of anything between 3-10 weeks, which will rule him out of the opening rounds of the Heineken Cup with Cardiff Blues.

In other matches in the tournament we've seen tacklers lift players above the horizontal and only receive yellow cards, or penalties. Those usually result in suspensions however, which in essence says that the decision was incorrect at the time and the player should have been red carded.

In this case, Rolland took a strong viewpoint and applied the 2009 directive from the IRB that states if 'The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the players safety.. a red card should be issued for that type of tackle.'

For the Welsh, and rugby fans in general, the frustrating thing is that referees don't always apply this, so when it happens in such a crucial game, it's difficult to accept, and even understand.

It was a courageous effort from Wales, but they will rue their missed chances, and France go on to the final, where they will face the winner of tomorrow's semi final between the All Blacks and Wallabies. Wales will play again however, in the third place playoff.

The below video includes the tackle itself, interviews, the views of Francois Pienaar, Lawrence Dallaglio, and Martyn Williams, as well as a look at other tip-tackle incidents from this World Cup.

The most sensible comment (from a registered user) will receive a Rugbydump Hoodie.

Posted by Rugbydump at 2:14 pm | View Comments (258)

Posted in Rugby World Cup

Viewing 258 comments

Luke October 15, 2011 3:42 pm

Getting sent off for a tackle in rugby is like being fined for speeding in formula 1!

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Cheesekiwi October 15, 2011 3:42 pm

Dis...grace...full! A league friends of mine said that union had just embarassed itself on a world stage. I just feel for Sam, he is such a great young player and did not deserve to get sent off for that hit because it was not a malicious act. The fact is Vincent Clerc ran into Warburton who is at least 20kg heavier and 15cm taller, which was a stupid thing for him to do. In the review of other tip-tackle accidents of this World Cup, you see Clerc overcoming exactly the same thing against the Tongans. Sam Warburton just made a monstrous hit on Clerc and reacted badly when realizing he has actually hit him so solid that Clerc was slightly upended. In conclusion, I really did not like the attitude of the French players after that tackle was made, it made me think of a Barcelona vs Real Madrid soccer match.

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fraggle October 18, 2011 5:18 pm

Just because it wasn't malicious doesn't mean he shouldn't be sent off!

Was it unfortunate? Yes, did it ruin the game? Yes
Does warburton have a great disciplinary record? Yes
Were Wales the better team? Yes
Was there inconsistency in applying this rule in other games? Yes

Does any of that affect the referees decision? NO!!!!!!!!

The rule is clear, and the ref enforced it. He was dead right. It was a dangerous tackle.

I feel sorry for Warburton and Wales, they were deserved to go through, but really, some of the commentary is pure rubbish. Pieanar even said that the ref should have gone to the television match officials. That shows how knowledgeable he is on this, because you cant go the TMO for this kind of incident! To be honest, Warburton shold have known better than to leave go once he had Clerc upended.

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Ben October 18, 2011 6:56 pm

I really can't believe what Cheesewiki wrote.

"The fact is Vincent Clerc ran into Warburton who is at least 20kg heavier and 15cm taller, which was a stupid thing for him to do."

Have you ever played rugby? In this noble sport we call this having guts and playing well.

"I really did not like the attitude of the French players after that tackle was made, it made me think of a Barcelona vs Real Madrid soccer match. "

Yes apparently you watch too much soccer. The French response was a common reaction for such a stupid and dangerous tackle.

I don't know what to think of the ref's decision, but blaming the French for it - and for winning the game - is pure stupidity. They may have been lucky, but they didn't cheat. The Welsh can only blame themselves.

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Irish_ape October 15, 2011 3:43 pm

Hard luck Wales, wrong decision imo. Yellow and penalty at best. He should have consulted his touch judges at least with such a big decision (especially in a wc semi). However I felt that Wales left it behind them: missed a conversion, a penalty and why oh why didnt they go for the drop goal in front of the posts when they were on the French 22? You can hold your heads high tho Wales, great display and character for remainder of the game with 14 men. Sad to see Williams hang the boots up, what a cracking player - I think he still has plenty to offer the Welsh team.

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Sospanfach0505 October 15, 2011 7:10 pm

Appreciate the comments and support from all the Irish. Unfortunately some of my countrymen have let the emotions get the better of them with some of the comments about the "Irish Ref", bias, and so on. The thought did cross my mind but on reflection the French could argue that some of the penalty decisions against them were suspect. Was it a "Red" - doesn't matter anymore for this tournament. Should we have still won - yes. Did we - we know the answer. We are Welsh, this will hurt like our hearts have been ripped out but we will regroup and bounce back. We need to finish on a high and go out to win a test against a SH team next week. Then we will look back in weeks / months to come with found memories and huge amounts of pride. I hope and pray that Gatland stays and is not coaxed back to NZ for a potential chance of leading the AB's. We need him and all his team to help us push on to 2015. It's amazing - 6 weeks ago we would have been overjoyed to have made it to the semi's - we need to remeber that when we have all calmed down. For Shane's sake we need to regroup and put in one massive performance next week. For all the other commentators from across the world that seem to revel in other nations heart ache - keep to yourself guys, winding people up just for the sake of it might be a pass time we all partake in on occasion - but there's a time and place. This is not the time or the place - join twitter and enjoy your ranting. As for me - proud of the Welsh team and I'm sure many other nation's followers feel the same regarding their own. Cymru Am Byth.

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agrippa October 15, 2011 10:15 pm

i am dissappointed for wales, playing rugby with 14 men and being pipped by a point really means they won the game in my book. the sending off killled the game no doubt about it, but it wasn't the wrong decision or a mistake by the ref. he could have given a yellow but deemed it serious enough to give a red. if all refs did the same the spear tackle would be gone pretty sharpish from the game, however its rucby, and big tackles are part of the game. credit to the ref for not being swayed by the occaision. wales dont have to look back too far when they got the benefit from a reffing mistake, in last years six nations when they took a quick lineout with a different ball and scored against ireland denying them the triple crown and maybe the championship. the ref got that call wrong according to the rules. rolland got the call right today according to the rules. sometimes the better team loses like today but thankfully the better team in rugby usually wins. it is a bitter dissappointment nonetheless. i am irish and was up for wales and hoped they would go all the way to the final. unfortunately not today. warburton is a class player and have many more times in the sun. good luck shane williams, a stalwart of welsh rugby.

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Doddy October 15, 2011 3:44 pm

Travesty, Allain Rolland ruining another game of rugby,this should have been about two attacking styles of rugby competing, unfortunately this game will be marred by such a terrible decision by the official.

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instrumental October 15, 2011 3:46 pm

is this not all distracting from the point that although it was a poor, poor decision Wales missed 8 points?

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Gavin8 October 17, 2011 11:31 am

11 actually, hook missed two pens, jones missed a conversion and halfpenny missed a pen.

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jim October 15, 2011 3:50 pm

Disappointed with ITV's reaction. LETTING HIM GO is a red card when you lift a man like that, you can do one thing. . . put him down safely. Dropping him on his head/back/shoulder is just as back as driving in my eyes and thankfully in the eyes of the ref.

Gutted for Wales though. Les Blues DO NOT deserve a RWC Final!

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RedYeti October 15, 2011 3:56 pm

Why is being dropped just as bad as being driven into the ground? Would you rather Warburton hadn't let go, and instead of just Clerc's (not particularly impressive :P) bodyweight, you also had the full force of Warburton's weight, plus his driving power, smashing into Clerc's upper-back/neck. It is much safer to let go than to properly spear a player. Not that there's anything particularly safe about bringing a man above horizontal in the first place, but that's another matter entirely...

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Anarchangel October 16, 2011 12:51 am

Yeah, it's safer to let him go than to drive him, but it's still dangerous play that could have resulted in a serious injury.

To be honest though, Wales can't blame that for the loss. France responded to the card by playing like they were a man down too! Wales had plenty of chances and still should have won the game. Neither team deserved to win that. France better smarten up their play or they'll be demolished in the final.

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MicahelL October 15, 2011 3:50 pm

he landed on his upper back head area, and if that happen in a game to you, you would expect the player to be sent off too, so why not in world cup semi?? ya it wreaks the game but he would have got a ban after the game anyways, and it would have been unfair on the french if he stayed on the pitch. the law states dropped or driven, so doesnt matter warbuton didnt drive him into the ground, the law says what it says, and ref was spot on with the law, would have liked it to be a yellow would have made for a better game

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Ecosse October 15, 2011 3:51 pm

Rolland -
"Its a feckin' carte rouge pour vous Monsieur"

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crabapple October 15, 2011 3:51 pm

Im going to be unpopular with the following comments...
Maybe he should have got a red, I personally think it should have been yellow, however; if you take a player past 90degrees and subsequently dropped, the player (Warburton) has to realise he is taking a risk ye, it may have been an accident, but with the IRB clamping down on these types of tackles the risk of getting carded is even greater!
God close game though!

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Maxime October 15, 2011 3:52 pm

I think the card was deserved. Although it just ruined the game, this tackle could have been very dangerous if Clerc hadn't bended his neck. Plus I heard people complaining about Clerc holding his head and simulating, but it was just because he received an accidental punch when Warburton fell.
Nevertheless, the Welsh team seemed to be the best team on the field this morning but you can only blame them (and especially Warburton unfortunately) for losing . But I really hope Gatland will stay and that he and Warbuton will bring the team back at this stage in 4 years.
Sad to see players Adam Jones, Shane Williams and Stephen Jones retiring from international rugby, but Wales has a good generation coming so I don't worry for them.
Anyway , Les Bleus still deserved the win despite their very very very poor performance. I really hope they will show something else next week as they appear to be the worst team ever to be in final , based on what they have shown in this RWC.
So congrats Wales and Allez les Bleus.

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RedYeti October 15, 2011 3:53 pm

Sorry for the essay ;)


The iRB directive (that almost nobody seemed to be aware of) about red-carding pretty much anything near a spear tackle seems extreme. Even if we uphold the letter of that law, there is always going to be debate over the classification of Warburton's tackle between these two options:

"-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"

Warburton seemed to let go of Clerc, but he brought him most of the way down, and had he not released I feel would have put unnecessary force driving through Clerc's upper-back/neck. It seemed to be an attempt to pull out. I would definitely have classed this as 'all other types of dangerous lifting tackles' and given a yellow card.

As a relevant aside, I agree with Francois Pienaar. Why on Earth do we not have video-referees looking at red-card decisions? It can't be a time-wasting issue, since there are usually multiple tries per game that can be examined, and comparatively very few possible red-card offences. It would be simple to implement; if the referee or touch judge believed a red card was necessary then the referee would check with the TMO to see if he agreed. Maybe a minute's worth of game-time wasted, and we could avoid any issues of this kind.


tl;dr the iRB directive is still open to interpretation about different types of tackles, and we should think about implementing TMOs for serious red-card-worthy offences

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RedYeti October 15, 2011 4:06 pm

I'd also like to add that referees rarely stick absolutely to the letter of the law. I have heard refs talk about being able to give any of about 3 different offences at any given breakdown, and how one ref used offside penalties to control the game (i.e. he could pretty much ping one player offside at any time).

Referees are specifically trained to use their discretion and interpretation to control a game and make it flow properly. This means NOT giving more penalties than they do, or could, give, usually...

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Jeff October 16, 2011 1:45 pm

Why isn't Paddy O'Brien on TV being hauled over the coals for this? Does he work for the game (the players, the coaches, the fans) or not?

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ciaranbrk October 15, 2011 3:53 pm

It doesn't matter he turned him in the air and blame ref boss Paddy O'Brien he said zero tolerances for spears and gouging before the RWC started. Jamie Heaslip was given a red card in 2010 for kneeing MaCaw in the head 10 mins into the match. I have Complete respect for the Welsh they beat us well last week no complaints. I think Samoa were worthier quarter finalists than Eng or Fra and so were Ire it is a shame that Ire Wal wasn't the semi they both deserved it :(.

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Anon October 15, 2011 7:18 pm

You say that, yet the player that gouged Cian Healy received nothing even though the referee acknowledged he was gouged? (yes he was suspended later) but it proves that the referees are far too poor and inconsistent, referees should not have such abilities to make such dramatic differences to a game where so much is at stake!

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kevinkorea October 17, 2011 12:54 am

The ref didn't see it. He said that he had heard the complaints but didn't see it so couldn't give it so that wasn't inconsistent although there were a few bad decisions from the ref in that game.

I feel sorry for Roland when he doesn't make a mistake he is judged by the standard of other refs who have made mistakes and rely on the citing committee to fix their mistakes as has happened with previous matches.

A Wales versus New Zealand would have been great but they blew their chance with so many missed opportunities. Unlucky Wales but stop moaning so much now, it's beginning to sound like an English soccer team after a World Cup (any loss).

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Berland2003 October 15, 2011 3:53 pm

It seems after failing in the quater finals, Ireland got their revenge in the semi-finals and managed to force the Welsh out of the rugby world cup!

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Globetrotter October 15, 2011 5:35 pm

Most of Ireland was shouting for Wales to go the whole way. Your comments and those of many others in a similar vein portray Wales as poor losers and don't do service to the excellent Welsh performances in the world cup (including beating Ireland).
It is not fair to criticise the ref for implementing the rules and following the guidelines laid down for all referees. Suggesting that a referee should ignore rules and guidelines as to how those rules should be interpreted so as to somehow balance up the incompetence of other referees is ridiculous. There is only one person responsible for Sam Warburton being sent off and it was not the referee.

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 10:41 am

Globetrotter> How do you know he's Welsh? He referred to them as "the Welsh".

"There is only one person responsible for Sam Warburton being sent off and it was not the referee."

Paddy O'Brien? or Papa Jean Pierre Rolland?

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agrippa October 15, 2011 10:31 pm

i hope that comment makes you feel better, hope it eases the pain of wales being eliminated from the world cup, having someone to blame to take your anger out on is always good. of course rolland should never have been reffing that game, he is half irish and half french. take it on the chin like your countrymen. remember when the half welsh ref craplan awarded wales a try which should not have been allowed cos the wrong ball was used for the quick lineout against us ( ireland ) that decision cost ireland the 6 nations and possibly the championship! its sport, bad things happen, at least clerc did not get an injury.

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 5:47 pm

Clerc deserves an injury, he spends enough time rolling around on the floor crying about nothing. Someone should give him something to actually cry about.

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moddeur October 16, 2011 6:44 pm

Hey Rugbydump, I think we just found the winner of your "Hoodie for the best comment". This is a top-notch comment, deserves the first prize!

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Eggman October 15, 2011 3:54 pm

I think Pienaar was spot on. Yellow at best.

Wales must be gutted, losing against 15 men France team while playing 14 men for 60 minutes, because of a missed conversion and penalty, that were so bloody close...

France really must lift their game if they want to have a chance of beating either NZ or AUS, another display like that definately won't win them the cup.

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Patrick October 15, 2011 3:55 pm

people seem to be missing the fact that in the description RD says: "By the letter of the law, Rolland probably got it right". yeah the decision ruined the game but it doesnt mean it was wrong, thats the rules, you have to play by them. rather have a game of 15 v 15 or someone with a broken neck when one of these goes wrong?

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tyddynroger October 15, 2011 3:55 pm

if it was brian o'driscoll, warburton would have got away with it.

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mikeymac October 15, 2011 3:56 pm

such a devastating blow for the young skipper. i think a yellow card would of been a just punishment for the tackle, its one of those where you hit a player so sweetly that they fold in half around your shoulder. Warburton doesn't drive the player into the ground or cause him major harm, i think the reaction from the french players makes the referees mind up and resulting in spoiling the semi-final by taking the game out if the players hands. we still have to take notice of wales performance with 14 and if they had of won the game it would of been a moment of world cup history. all though wales lost i'm still proud of the welsh teams efforts through the whole of the competition.

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rufty October 15, 2011 3:56 pm

I am amazed at all the comment lambasting the ref here. Rugby has always been a hard hitting. fast paced, tough game, however, since the advent of professionalism and with the increased physicality of the sport it has become necessary to outline what is okay and what is not in terms of tackling and player responsibility. The laws clearly state, and have for some time, that once a player is in the air, it is the tacklers job to him to the ground safely and failure to do so warrants a red card. Warburton should have known this and, whilst not malicious in any way, it was his job to get Clerc back to terra firma correctly which he failed to do and had to walk as a result. Without the laws, this game we love would be anarchy. We can't apply them only when we feel and when player safety is at stake it has to be a black and white issue. Wales I feel for ye as ye were the better team on the day and should have won. However, the missed kicks were more of a concern than the "by the book" job done by Mr. Rolland this morning.

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Malcolm Bradbrook October 15, 2011 3:56 pm

Three observations

1) A yellow - a red is too harsh for this

2) It was a bad tackle. We can say all we like about Sam being a nice bloke etc. Fact remains he tipped the player, who landed on his shoulders and that is illegal under current laws. Had this tackle been perpetrated by someone with 'rugby villain' status such as Bakkies, Schalk Burger, Courtney Lawes etc, the focus would have been on the player doing something silly rather than the ref

3) If IRB is to insist on red cards for tackles like this, we will see an ever increasing number of tackled players throwing their legs up and diving their shoulders down to exaggerate the angle of the tip.

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Patrick October 15, 2011 4:08 pm

"we will see an ever increasing number of tackled players throwing their legs up and diving their shoulders down to exaggerate the angle of the tip." - that is the stupidest thing ive seen on a comment on here, to even suggest that players would do that is just ridiculous, who would want to not only do that to themselves, put themselves in more danger but to take a dive??

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Malcolm Bradbrook October 15, 2011 4:12 pm

I like your faith and I wish you were right. Unfortunately when rampant consumerism is at play human nature can be an unpleasant thing.

Seems difficult to believe that a respected and professional international player would agree to be deliberately cut to allow a kicking blood-replacement to come on but that is what has happened.

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Patrick October 17, 2011 8:26 am

fair enough, didnt really think of that incident, maybe im just thinking too highly of our players!

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BuzzKillington October 17, 2011 2:47 pm

Downside of professionalism. Players will go that extra mile.

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BuzzKillington October 15, 2011 4:36 pm

Actually Patrick what Malcolm says is true. In the NRL this year there were several incidents of players tipping themselves over the horizontal to make a penalty. That's not opinion either, Michael Crocker for example threw himself head first into the ground purposely, was blatant for everyone to see.

People purposely throw their faces into the ground to win penalties. It happens and will increase exponentially. If you think players don't do it you're kidding yourself.

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dan October 15, 2011 3:57 pm

Everyone is saying that it didn't deserve a red card. Well what if he had broken his neck?? what would you say then? Regardless if Sam has always been a clean player I think these sort of tackles should always be harshly punished. I think Sam must have been too pumped up and got carried away with that tackle. He had the time to perfectly make a very crunching/legal tackle. There was no need to lift him until his legs were above his shoulders. There is a reason why these laws are there - to make the game as safe as possible. If these tackles weren't heavily sanctioned I wouldn't let my son take the field.

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Baker October 15, 2011 3:58 pm

Ridiculously imbalanced video, I wonder what the franch media thought of the incident? The irish coverage I was watching was split but to compile a video of british coverage (welsh commentator), british studio (welsh analyst) and the welsh press conference is a bit much!

Also the arguments of both Pienaar and Dallagio (awful pundit) are so flawed its not true, why should Warburtons past disciplinie come into it, or indeed the magnitude of the game? I'm pretty sure a broken neck/shoulder would still occur in a world cup semi final just as it would on a sunday morning in a park, also i dont think Clerc would take much comfort from a hospital bed upon hearing Warburton was a clean player. He wasn't injured but a couple of inches more and he could have been.

It wasn't intentional but it was dangerous and by the lew that has been passed down the decision was correct, its not Rollands fault referees in the past have not had the courage to make the correct call.

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Oliver October 18, 2011 9:08 am

Yes! Thank you for making that point, monsieur. I expected much better from RD.

I think a lot of you don't understand how us Froggies often feel isolated, and even alienated, in an english-speaking rugby world (Argentina's rise being fairly recent and I count SA as anglos).

As for the French media, they basically said the ending off was justified, but that we won without glory. Did you say win ugly? Oh wow does that ring a bell??
So France is only allowed to be a beautiful loser I guess....

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Andy B October 15, 2011 3:59 pm

Another RWC game ruined by a shock decision... The iRB need to put the record straight once and for all on the tip tackle. Warburton didn't drive him into to the ground... He released him and dropped him from a reasonable height.

4 more years for Wales too then, but one thing is certain, If France play like that (no tries against 14 men in 60 minutes) Australia OR New Zealand will put a cricket score on them.

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wrcfan October 15, 2011 4:00 pm

disappointing to have the spectacle of a wrc semi removed by a single decision, in hindsight Warbuton is a classy and clean player, obviously no intent, a great captain, would Rolland have sent off McCaw for a similiar hit? To the letter of the law Rolland can be judged right but its a contact game and a yellow would have been fair

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flyingpepper October 15, 2011 4:00 pm

Don't think it deserved the red, but if you read the rule in black and white, as the ref does then guess it would have to be a red. But like others are saying players did much worse and got much less in the game. The rules do seem to be making it harder for the defense, especially to put in the big hit.

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Irish_ape October 15, 2011 4:00 pm

@ Berland2003

Thats a pathetic comment, we were rooting for ye and to say something like that is childish. We are not sore losers, you only have to watch the post match interviews and listen to Irish rugby fans to know that decision was the last thing we wanted.

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Tony October 15, 2011 4:03 pm

If Clerc was stretchered off with a broken neck would the red card of been harsh?

It was the worst kind of tackle and it got what it deserved. There are kids watching this match all over the world who now know it is unacceptable.

The sad thing was the reaction of the ex-players and 'expert' pundits. The referee is right no matter what and according to the law he is correct.

Just because other players have got away with such tackles in other games doesn't mean it's any less wrong and I fail to see how it is a valid excuse/argument.

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jacklevins October 15, 2011 4:04 pm

Alain Roland: "I was going to give you yellow but then I saw red"

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puger October 15, 2011 4:04 pm

far from the ref getting it wrong i think the commentators have got it wrong. they're saying that because its a world cup semi final he shouldnt have got a red card cos it upset the flow and fairness of the game. thats like saying that its cool to do it in any other match just not here and yet they always give out saying that refs arent consistent enough. also saying that warburton isnt a dirty player is stupid you have to ref whats in front of you. the is quite clear as pointed out in the text above the video. he released him in the air. he made no attempt to help him to the ground and he ended up landing on his head neck and shoulders. very good refing by rolland i think

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Jaunard_du_Cantal October 15, 2011 4:06 pm

I'm french and I respect Alain Roland as on of the best refs in the game, but wholeheartedly agree that this was a terrible mistake. Dangerous tackle yes, yellow card yes, but no way that was a red card. The worst part of it is seeing France win by just a point while playing 15 vs 14 the whole game, which really outlines the injustice.
Wales is my favorite team besides France, and there is no doubt in my mind that they deserved their final way more than we did. They've played outstanding throughout this WC whereas we've played like shit, and I love their game style, team cohesion and individual brilliance.
Really sad to see Shane finish his international career on such a heartbreaking note. I'm sorry to say we have nothing to be proud of, congrats to Welsh rugby for their WC campaign.

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flyingpepper October 16, 2011 8:12 am

Complete respect to you and what you said> Clear example of what makes the fans of this sport so great, we are happy to admit not deserving a win.

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moddeur October 15, 2011 4:06 pm

As a French supporter, I must say that there is nothing glorious about this French victory. I watched the game with a fellow supporter and we sort of felt bummed out at the end. There was no joy to be found in seeing the Welsh lose this way... no cars honking in Toulouse afterwards (normally the town goes beserk in important Heineken Cup victories).
I would have said yellow card, but I wasn't up close like Rolland, and all we get to see in video close ups is a slow-motion view which doesn't do much justice to the action.
Even one man down, Wales had the game for the taking, it's a pity they didn't do just that. But playing one man down is so tiring, you can't blame them either ...
France should theoretically start playing rugby in the final (we're still waiting for them to wake up). Let's hope for the ABs or Aussies that it won't be on the day.

@Cheesekiwi: there is nothing wrong in the French team's reaction, forwards protect their buddies from the back, this is what everyone does, in every country, in every team. You don't let someone on your team get upended (however slightly you think it is) and dropped without at least some reaction, do you?

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Lucius October 15, 2011 4:08 pm

A red card after 19 minutes is really too much for that (spear) tackle: the young captain deserved a yellow card.

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slaz6348 October 15, 2011 4:12 pm

Every reader or viewer who has been here for the past few years should know that the general rule is "If the tackler tips the ball carrier past the horizontal, it's a send-off." There have been multiple videos posted on THIS VERY SITE (not limited to the world cup!!) that show tackles that have been lifted but brought down safely, lifted but not brought down safely, and lifted but tipped past the horizontal and driven into the ground. The sanctions have been generally consistent: play on, penalty/yellow, and red card, respectively.

Warburton clearly did not drive Clerc into the ground. There was clear intent to lift but you can see the exact moment that Warburton releases Clerc at 0:54. It was a trigger-happy, selfish decision by Referee Rolland to whip out the red without consulting either of the touch judges.

That being said, Wales missed their chances to score. The French took theirs and held on. It can't be known who would have won had Warburton not gotten a red. A truly gut-wrenching result, but all we can do is cheer them on next week.

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JTS October 15, 2011 4:17 pm

As a player, and a player who has been hit in a similar way due to my size it isn't pleasant but the player who performed the hit on me received a yellow and that was it. People say how malicious the tackle is and the circumstances don't matter. But the fact is it does or should. Sam showed no malice and the action was completely accidental, furthermore at the stage of the game a yellow card is more appropriate simply because Rolland has killed a game, a team and a nation without a moment of consideration or consultation. The speed in which the decision was made really does bring into question Rolland's reliability and where his allegiances lie, perhaps that is an immature and poorly backed up point but man who is irish born, the team which wales defeated to reach the semi-final, and who's father is french and the man himself speaks the language fluently the selection of referee by the IRB or world cup committee or who ever conducts that matter is poor. The incident itself shows Sam realising the tackle was a 'tip' tackle and reacting by not driving him into the floor. Clerc's over the top reaction, followed by another incident later in the match where he react to being hit in the face before realising nothing was coming and getting straight back up simply shows that despite his talent should merely be a footballer. The fact the tackle shown on Lambie wasn't red and the one in question was the point about perception being invalid and we should stick to the rules is thrown out the window and refereeing constancy has to be brought into question.

In the game Wales showed true heart and was very proud of how they all conducted themselves despite being scottish. They deserved to win and will rue missed opportunities, they missed Priestland in the time of need. The french team have to be the worst and perhaps most fortunate team ever to reach the final, well done to them though their defence was very good in the last 10-20 minutes.

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Andyboy October 15, 2011 4:17 pm

I think a yellow would have done for this but, if the French had made a similar tackle on Shane Williams (for instance), we'd all be baying or a red card I'm sure. I believe a few minutes before the sending off there was another instance where a Welsh player tipped a French player off his feet but not to the extent Warburton did.

What this game showed me is that, IMHO, Wales have the potential to challenge the best but need to be more clinical. They should have beat South Africa but failed to take the points when on offer; even with 14 men, they should have beaten France but choked when the points were there begging. France, offering nothing creative, took their points when on offer and that was the difference.

Wales need to get out of the "gallant loser" mentality and face up to where they need to improve. If they can add the ruthless, clinical touch to their game, they have potential to be world beaters.

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RHD80 October 15, 2011 4:17 pm

According to the Laws of the game it was a correct decision. These laws are there to protect players from serious injury.


These laws need re-wording. Rugby is a contact (or as Francois Piennaar stated "Collision") sport. Being Welsh I may be bias, but I think the laws in this area need to be looked at again, have a good review - for the good of the sport. Granted it won't affect the outcome of this particular match but I fear for Rugby Union if we carry on down this road. Yes the players need protecting, but they do Not need to be wrapped up in cotton wool. Let's have some common sense. When I played the best thing about the game was the contact. As my old Samoan coach used to say "If you don't enjoy tackling then you're playing the wrong sport." Let's not ruin it.

In addition, although there was no malice in this tackle the decision made by Mr Rolland today was correct according to the current law. It's just a shame that the laws have not been applied consistently from one game to another (although I will concede there is always a margin for human error).

I won't take anything away from France, and wish them, along with Australia and New Zealand all the best. However I feel that the final will be all the poorer without a strong and enterprising Wales team. Wales, the team and the nation has lost today, but so, I feel has the game of Rugby Union and the tournament as a whole.

I will also add that I am still immensely proud of the boys, for their conduct on and off the field during this world cup. They have been a joy to watch and an inspiration to our nation. Still hoping we can bring back a podium finish!

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Hry October 16, 2011 2:51 pm

I'd rather watch New Zealand face a France side capable of producing an absolute thriller (though it is unlikely) than a Wales side inferior in skill in every position on the pitch, who will undoubtedly put in a valiant performance but ultimately have no chance of winning.

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Pamc October 15, 2011 4:18 pm

If other referees before rollain had not chickened out since 2009 and applied the law this MGHT not have happened.

Players are getting too powerful for there own good... France/Wales CENTRES today 6ft4"ish and 17stone ish, Crazy. Nonu, steyn, sonny bill.

Some day soon a big match will be played in front of millions on TV and someone, to the horror of the IRB and general rugby society is going to get killed... Happened in NFL and will happen in Rugby.

I see a 13 man game coming in the future.

PS: why didnt Warburton drive his legs forward through the tackle like hes supposed to.

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welshbuddah October 15, 2011 4:20 pm

Penalty? - yes, Yellow card? Probably, Red Card - excessive. Obviously as a Welshman I have a slightly biased opinion, but what made it worse is the speed with which Monsieur Rolland made the decision - no consultation with his assistants, even though, when viewing the replay, his view of the tackle appears to be completely blocked by Lionel Nallet! In my opinion he made a knee jerk reaction to the response of the French players, which was completely over the top!

In spite of this Wales still played the majority of the rugby. Unfortunately Hook had a very poor game, and if it hadn't been for some poor decision making and missed opportunities we could have been discussing a Welsh victory in spite of Warburtons sending off!

But we are not, and instead we have yet another big international game where the most influential person on the pitch was the referee!!!

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Fair Play October 15, 2011 4:21 pm

Maybe the Welsh diserved more when you see how they played, and how France played, but saying there is no red car is absolutely false. They just had to score one the 4 kicks they were offered (3 penalties and a conversion) and no one would have complained about anything, so let's be serious, the Welsh lost the game more than the French won it. And by the way, the penalty at 74' is also very strange, if Halfpenny had scored it, it's he French who would have said the game was cheated. But congratulations to the Welsh who made a very good world cup, even if they weren't lucky. Warren Gatland isn't really demonstrating the fair play attitude we expected from a rugby coach, not a word on the defensive performance of the French...

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i love bacon October 15, 2011 5:28 pm

What defensive performance?

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Fair Play October 15, 2011 7:54 pm

France missed 9 tackles (7%), including 7 during the first half. They didn't give any penalty after the one missed by Halfpenny at 75', even after 26 phases. That looks like a quite good defense for me.

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bucklesf89 October 15, 2011 4:22 pm

I don't think you can argue with the decision. If it's an IRB directive to clamp down on tackles like this, then I say fair play to Rolland for having the balls to make that call.(Check out RTE's half time and full time discussion, they bring out the relevant laws). ITV showed tackles that got yellow cards and penalties during the world cup, but those players also got suspensions, which shows they are clamping down. Because Rolland gave the red, Warburton doesn't deserve a suspension as he's been punished enough. Rolland stepped up to the plate and fair play, there's too much moaning about referees in sport and not enough appreciation for the difficult job they do.

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Morgan October 15, 2011 4:24 pm

Je ne comprends pas!

Should have been a yellow, although Wales did miss several kicks, but could Warburton have made the difference while attacking?!?

The Welsh boys held strong with a man down and losing Jones early on, to be fair the French were not good enough and have to buck up to stand a chance in the final.

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Hry October 16, 2011 2:55 pm

Maybe if Warburton hadn't seen red, Rolland would have been afraid of accusations of bias enough to actually referee the scrum after Jones went off. I lost count of the number of times the Welsh front row went down, not a single penalty was given. The French forwards were dominant throughout, the Welsh got away with murder there. Funny how no-one mentions that eh.

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YoungPrender89 October 15, 2011 4:27 pm

It seems the public would rather have a separate set of rules for high television rating matches. It doesn't matter if it was was a RWC semi-final or a under 10s game, the laws are in place and players (and pundits) can't decide when and when not to follow them. We all scream for consistency in referees which is exactly what we got. Rolland let's that tackle away with just a penalty or a yellow and it encourages players to push the boundaries of rules in place for their own safety. If Clerc had his head slightly more vertical a lot of people would be singing a different tune.

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Tom October 15, 2011 4:30 pm

Warburtons yeast doesn't rise

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Ireland90 October 15, 2011 4:31 pm


Ridiculous comment... Majority if not all irish rugby supporters were up for wales this morning, Wales would definitely have been my 2nd fav team after ireland. It shouldn't have been a red card despite what the laws state, i feel he should have given a yellow card and let the IRB investigate anything further after the game. Heart goes out to the welsh! stephen jones on the otherhand i think should be more to blame than the ref to me, an experienced fly like jones just outside the 22 needs to step up and take that drop goal, showed a serious lack of courage and let his team down.

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french dude October 15, 2011 4:31 pm

he diserved a card, possibly not red, but there's no way it's a big mistake by the ref...and warburton lifted him on purpose! French media also thought it would be a yellow thought.
Hopefully clerc landed well, but it could have gone really wrong. Rugby is a tough sport, but that kind of tackles are very dangerous.

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Colombes October 15, 2011 4:32 pm

Firstly, as a french fan, all my kind regards go towards welsh players and fans.
They show great courage and determination depiste the match didn't go in the right way for them.

But unfortunately, Warburton didn't make a good choice by making this dangerous tackle.
on the action, i was like everybody, thinking that a yellow card would be sufficient. but the replays showed it was very dangerous, he let clerc fall on his neck.
it's not a question about alain rolland having "french" origines, rolland even gave a red card to florian fritz for the same type of tackle one year ago (if RD can find out it >> Wasps-Toulouse)... it's a question about why all the refs don't applicate strictly the rules. alain rolland applicate the good one.
it's harsh, it's sad, it's ruined a game which was quite promising. it forced welshs to change their plans and i quite sure it also disturbed french strategy.

but the game has also been lost because Wales failed to take their chances with jones missed-kick, and on a very generous penalty that halfpenny kicked too softly

france didn't do much, but the little they did, they achieved it. the backrow and parra are the only good notices of the game. France is an eternal new white sheet of paper

i'm sure that france have a one- big match performance fidden in their pockets to do a great final.if they don't find it they'll be trashed, whatever the opposition

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Hry October 16, 2011 2:59 pm

Well said.

Here's a thought for you all: most of us will agree that Warburton is now one of the elite number 7s in the world. How often do you see McCaw, Dusautoir, Brussow, Pocock take players off their feet in the tackle? Pretty much never. This probably has something to do with the fact that doing so runs an inherent risk of something going wrong and the tackler paying the price. Better to put in hard conventional hits than run the risk of a red, like Warburton did here.

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Fergal October 17, 2011 6:40 pm

well said. I feel sorry for Wales and it certainly seemed very harsh. But when emotion is out of the equation then the referee made the correct decision, and should be commended because he did his job without emotion, with the safety of players and the rules of the games at heart. The Welsh players and fans can be very proud of their tournament, but it's over now and it's not the refs fault.

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Jack from Spain October 15, 2011 4:33 pm

Francois Pienaar said it all...

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kevs198 October 15, 2011 4:33 pm

While there was no malicious intent in the tackle at all, Alain Rolland still followed the rules in sending him off. Sam picked him up, dropped him with no regard to his safety, and that is a red card by law. Its not Rolland's fault that it was a Semi-Final, its not his fault that other refs dont follow the letter of the law as close as he does, and its got nothing to do with the fact that Sam Warburton is a clean player. It was a very dangerous tackle and thats that. I think the decision was right, and if anything i respect his decision for doing it given the stage of the competition it was at.

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Hry October 16, 2011 3:01 pm

Nothing in the rulebook about malicious intent, and rightly so. It's a murky grey area open to interpretation. The rules are clear, Rolland made the right call. Pienaar and Dallaglio can bleat all they want, they're wrong.

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Nsw October 15, 2011 4:34 pm

Fair decision, he lifted him and dropped him with his legs above the horizontal. Numerous times Pacific island nations have made "tip" tackles less severe than this and received yellows (Seremaia Bai - Wales vs Fiji 2010) or even reds and just because it is a Tier 1 nation player and whether it be the semi final of the world cup or not that shouldn't affect the decision even though the majority of the time it does.

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Robert 9898 October 15, 2011 4:34 pm

I actually think that this spear tackling thing is a total farce. The Fact is the Law needs to take into account that two players are involved in a tackle and it is just as much the responsibilty of the person being tackled to land properly as the tackler to put him down. Sort the laws out. Not the referees fault. Why should the little guys get an advantage over a bigger player who can DUMP THEM, if their own technique is wrong and they allow themselves to get smashed..

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guest October 15, 2011 4:35 pm

I feel sorry for wales as they deserve to be in the final but i'm afraid it was a red card, the ref is enforcing the rule book and that's what he is their to do. It doesn't take much to do serious damage to your neck by landing in a awkward position . What would be the reaction if clerc was seriously injured, i think everyone would change their tune! Out of the various tackles itv showed sams challenge was the worst because of the height he lifted clerc into the air and although he didn't drive him into the ground you can't say because he dropped him it made it okay! People complain a lot on how referees don't enforce various rules and then when the most experienced international ref does enforce the rules everyone starts complaining???? Obviously it is hard to accept for the welsh supporters but that's the rule that is set out by the IRB and that's sport for you!

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Dhanu0050 October 15, 2011 4:38 pm

Villain of the match: A quick decision from match referee Alain Rolland pretty much sealed the fate of Wales. If he had of taken time to talk to his touch-judges Wayne Barnes and Jonathan Kaplan then maybe the game might not have been soured.

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Hry October 16, 2011 3:03 pm

Rolland was within 5 metres with a clear view. After a 16-man lineout had just broken up, what makes you think the touch judges were in a better position to make the call?

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BuzzKillington October 15, 2011 4:41 pm

I also think this is a yellow at best. I'd have been happy with a penalty. Just a textbook tackle to me.

In no way was it a red card tackle. Just more evidence of Rugby going soft.

If the French players didn't act like soccer players, would the ref have shown red? I don't think so

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Grumly October 15, 2011 4:41 pm

Deserved imho !

Let's kick speartackle out of Rugby

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sr-dean October 15, 2011 4:41 pm

Whilst it was an arguably correct decision under the letter of the law most ref's would have interpreted it better. Lets hope with such a high profile poor decision the IRB will have another look at the law.

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threma October 15, 2011 4:49 pm

Red is deserved according to the law. The fact that it is a semi-final doesn't change anything. It actually makes it more obvious. It is watched by a broader audience and the IRB doesn't want rugby to be seen around the world as a sport where you can act dangerously. Hence the (harsh) law and the red card.
Nevertheless, I'm not sure it really benefited les Bleus. France started pretty well but completely stopped playing after the red card while in the same time it gave the Welsh extra motivation. Welshmen can only blame themselves I think. They had opportunities, didn't take advantage of them...too bad.
Allez les Bleus!!!

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F Y October 15, 2011 4:50 pm

Fair enough the law says "A player must not tackle early, late or dangerously" which this tackle obviously was; but it also clearly states "A player must not retaliate even if an opponent is infringing the laws of the game". The french 4 (Pascal Pape) immediately hits warburton and then carrys on "having a go" afterwards. Surely this should be a card as well?

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Gallego October 15, 2011 4:51 pm

Damn, am I the only one who agrees with Rolland's decision?

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Guy October 15, 2011 4:55 pm

The only sensible thing to do: install a TMO for every decision regarding a red card. I am not saying that Roland was wrong in this case, not saying he was right either. But if it is a mistake it is one that is too big for a WC semi-final.

So please IRB, install a rule that whenever a Ref is going to give red, he has to check with TMO. At least in the big tournaments like these.

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JCAS October 15, 2011 4:56 pm

This decision had a massive outcome on the game. Sam Warburton has been not only one of the players of the tournemant, but also the most inspirational captain not only of this world cup, but possibly of the last two. The decision could be argued to be technically correct, but should a player have to control the man back to the ground when it is fairly obvious he will land safely anyway? At worst i believe the decision should be a yellow card and to see their youthfull, exuberant captain leave the field at such an early stage in the game will have had a massive effect on the welsh teams mentality. This is a moment that will be remembered in rugby history forever.

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tempertantrum October 15, 2011 4:57 pm

red card....very harsh but as many people have said if you read the law book word for word you could give a red card for this type of tackle. However in a world cup semi-final with Wales who had emphatically taken care of Ireland to reach their first world cup semi since 1987 and France who despite losing to Italy earlier in the year and Tonga in the group stages bounced back and finished of six nations champions England to reach the semi finals of yet another world cup the referee has to take the nature of the game and the importance of the game in to context. Rarely is it that I get the chance to say "rugby should take a leaf out of football's book" but in the 2010 world cup final Holland made many tackles that in a normal league game would have got a card but the referee took the importance of the game into his decision and neglected to give a red until right into extra-time for a repeat offender so as not to corrupt the result. So please whoever is reffing the Final spare a thought for the players and the fans and " think before you reach for your pocket".

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APV1 October 15, 2011 4:59 pm

With one decision, Alain Rolland managed to tip Wales out of the RWC.

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i love bacon October 15, 2011 5:21 pm

I disagree. Wales played almost the same (minus a slight disadvantage in the scrum department) without Warburton. They were the only side to score a try.

Had Hook not missed two penalties, or Jones a conversion, they'd be the side going into the finals.

Would things have been different with that 15th man? Yeah, sure. But you can't say definitively that they would have done any better, I don't think.

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 10:24 am

You've never played rugby if you think that losing a player in the 15 man code doesn't haven't HUGE consequences for the side. It's not soccer.

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BuzzKillington October 15, 2011 5:01 pm

How about every high tackle, ever, no matter how slight, is a red card? Every collapsed maul(which are very dangerous) is a red card. Every time someone is tackled in the air, red card. Every time someone is taken our in a line out, red card. Every time someone flies into a ruck off their feet, red card. You see where I'm going with this? Lets just blanket red every one of these things, all of which are equally if not more dangerous than the tackle in question.

If we want to give people reds based on super slowmotions the end of most games will resemble a Sevens game. I will show you super slow motions that show people copping an arm or shoulder to the face every third tackle.

Wilkinsons classic tackle on Justin Bishop is a red card offense, according to people on here? Basically, half the classic text book tackles we've ever applauded in Rugby are now red card offenses, effectively.

You can say that this is a red card until you're blue in the face, and I won't argue that, but if that's what you are saying then if there's any consistency there should be 10 red cards a game.

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french dude October 15, 2011 5:05 pm

BuzzKillington you can't argue that was not dangerous... a red card is hard, but still, even if the tackle is not malicious, it is extremly dangerous...

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BuzzKillington October 15, 2011 5:32 pm

I'm not arguing it's not dangerous. I'm arguing it is dangerous, but so are plenty of other actions in Rugby. So why not red card stuff that's equally as dangerous but usually only warrants a penalty?

If this is a red then so are 10 other incidents every game. To red one and not the others is ridiculous

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 10:26 am

Welcome to rugby, a dangerous sport.

Fuck off and play tennis if you want to stay free of harm.

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moddeur October 16, 2011 12:32 pm

And welcome to rugby, a courteous sport. Hear that french dude?? If you're tired of being insulted and treated pedantically, then go play tennis!

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All_Cat67 October 16, 2011 5:43 pm

Why not employ 30 cage fighters, ignore the ball and any pretence at skill, and let them get on with it.

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 6:08 pm

I'd watch that.

It would be a lot better than this awful World Cup where the only memorable moments involved officials or kickers.

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threma October 15, 2011 5:06 pm

Red is fair. Is it the ref who kicked penalties and conversions for Wales? I don't think so. Hook, Jones and their teammates lost that game all by themselves.

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Lloyd Davies - Welsh October 15, 2011 5:10 pm

I think at the start of a match as big as this there is a lot of adrenaline on the park, Sam has made a huge hit and the hips of the player have gone above his shoulders which is usually classed as a dangerous tackle. Alan may well have made a bad decision with a red but he would have had a lot of adrenaline and nerves too. It is just one of those things that shouldn't happen but does. Players make worse decisions on the park constantly in semi's, finals and in any game so I think it is a little harsh to be over critical of the referee. At the same time, there is a large part of me that thinks Sean said it (and the French team reiterated it) that the better team in the semi final is not going through to the final. In my opinion that is due to a refereeing decision and is a very difficult pill to swallow.

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i love bacon October 15, 2011 5:13 pm

Red was fine. It was a bit harsh, but it was Rolland's call, and he made it.

I'd like to see Clerc cited for his soccer dive later in the match after he kicked a clearance and went down like a heap of potatoes. Sorta makes me wonder if he was really all that dazed from the Warburton tackle after all. But that doesn't change the fact that, at the time, red looked to be the option.

On a final note...I can't help but think this year is going to be yet another SH triumph - especially when all we've got going into the final is a team who barely beat out a 14-man side - a team that even with an extra player for 60 minutes of game time couldn't score a try. Thanks, France.

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RedYeti October 15, 2011 5:25 pm

I too found Clerc's dive pretty funny. He went down in true soccer-style, both hands clutching his face, and lay twitching on the floor haha

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Ed October 15, 2011 5:15 pm

I first thought it was a yellow but seeing it again made me realise it is definitly a red. Warbuton turn is shoulders and arms to make Clerc go head down, it's not like he accidently turned him around, there is clear intension. Then he drops him.
The ref just followed the rule. A red card doesn't ruin a match any more than an ugly tackle does.
Also at the end of the game the last penalty given to Wales was a wrong decision and should have been given to France for handling the ball on the ground from Charteris (I think).
The welsh were obviously better than the french in this game but didn't do enough to go through, as for South Africa who dominated their quarter final but lost to a brave defending australian team.
Can't wait for tomorow's game!

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Huw October 15, 2011 5:16 pm

A perfectly timed tackle and there would have been no problem against a French player of equal size/weight. Yes he got carried away and forgot to take in to account Vincent Clercs much smaller build but there was no malice and when he realised it shows he didn't drive the player down.A yellow card would have been fair but a red card for this tackle while so many others in this tournament have gotten away with far worse is unreasonable.
We have the technology to have a second look and opinion and to pull out a straight red card in a semi final with no consultation is outrageous.

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french dude October 15, 2011 5:17 pm

anyone remember when was the "soccer dive" from clerc, i really want to look at it again, to make my own opinion of it

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i love bacon October 15, 2011 5:35 pm

It was definitely in the second half - I want to say sometime around 60 minutes, but I can't be certain...with all the ping-pong kicking going on, time all sort of blended together. I'd have to get a copy of the match for say for sure.

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french dude October 15, 2011 5:50 pm

try this to replay the game (in french with very poor coments...)

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french dude October 15, 2011 6:44 pm

i found it, 73 min, but we can't really see much, the camera is far... not as obvious as you all seem to say

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Stefan October 15, 2011 5:20 pm

Watching the game with a common room full of neutrals (couple of Welsh fans) not one could agree with the decision taken, mainly because it is a far more harsh call than had been made in recent times. I think that there should be some things that should determine the penalty for a given action and some things that should be discarded from the referees thoughts from the decision.
So what should the ref think about:
1. How did the action relate to the laws? i.e. 2009 IRB directive => red card
2. What is the common action taken in similar cases? i.e. other lift and drop tackles in RWC11 => pen/yellow
3. Did the other officials have a better view? i.e. it's already a stop in play, discuss with touchies.
What shouldn't the ref think about?
1. Offending players' reputations. Quite frankly a "clean" reputation does not alter severity of what may have happened.
2. The time/occasion of the event. Yes it 'spoiled' a semi-final, but the law is the law whatever the game, in spite of whatever commercialisation of the sport will dictate.

Looks like a lot for one man to deal with in such a short space of time, doesn't it? On balance, and with a cool head now, I might say the ref had no choice but to give a red, but the players and officials are human, as are all of the spectators, and compromise is a basic human process (at least I hope it is) so I wish it hadn't been red today.

Life goes on - this post has gone on too far - and we'll look forward to the 2nd semi and final next week. Just goes to show the lawmakers need to keep on their toes and make this game we love stay fun and safe in this period of exciting growth of rugby!

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Michael October 15, 2011 5:20 pm

I accept that the tackle didn't yield an injury but it was inherently dangerous and had this been in a celtic league tie on the 78th minute I don't think anyone would have refuted the decision. I think the controversy simply stems from the magnitude of the game in which it took place. Afraid to say a yellow minimum, despite being a fan of Warburtons general play and attitude on and off the field.

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holbeck ghyll October 15, 2011 5:21 pm

The question is whether an occasion or situation should influence a referee's ability to apply the law.
Looking at the directive that's being banded around that was sent out by the I.R.B talking about a bulls cheetahs game, then a red was justified - even neccessary - in the eyes of the governing body. There is no mention of 'if the game is really important and we need it to look good to advertise the sport, then let him off with it' in the rules. The fault lies with other refs throughout the tournament who haven't applied the rules the way the I.R.B have wanted them to.
Spear tackles are something no-one likes to see (and that is where this all stems from), and we cannot blame rugby's authorities for trying to stop them. Unfortunately, this is a pretty tough by-product of that crack down.

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IHC October 15, 2011 5:21 pm

To me this was a simple case of physics that momentarily went awry and was not brought under control simply because I don't think rugby players, even professionals, are taught how to "damage-control" an inadvertent tip-tackle in mid-action. First the physics: Sam W. is big fella who tackled his man nice and low from an essentially static position which forced him to stand and lift his opponent as his only way to properly follow through with the tackle. Vincent C. is small and light and simply off-balance in the tackle and so quickly tumbles back head-first. Between that moment and the moment barely a second later when Sam W. clearly senses the danger of the situation and releases Vincent C. so as to not drive him forcefully downwards in the way he was originally intending to drive him forcefully backwards there is an opportunity, however slight and however difficult to implement EVEN if Sam W. had been trained to do so, for him to desperately hold on to Vincent C. and try to bring him down gently.

The rule book is pretty clear and essentially it would appear that Mr. Rolland's decision is quite correct but, alas, for Wales and for all neutral rugby fans the world over, it was a decision that spoiled a momentous event and said nothing of Warburton's intent either before or during the actual tackle itself. And finally the only real conclusion all rugby supporters can come to after his sending off is that it contributed to awful game of aerial ping-pong and demonstrated that this really is one of the worst French teams in a very long time, and now, despite all performances to date in this RWC, including the one against an equally unimpressive English side, they are in the Final. It's the first truly sad turn of events at this great RWC and now what a disappointing Final we are all in for....!

BTW - I just read a Tweet from Sam about racist referees ;-)

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Garethdavey87 October 15, 2011 5:40 pm

When it comes to it, rugby's primarily there to be enjoyed. Rolland's decision destroyed what should have been a thrilling match and denied a place in the final to the most exciting and deserving team in the world cup. Of any player, the inspirational, clean-cut Warby deserved it least.


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MDS67 October 15, 2011 5:59 pm

Definitively a yellow card worthy tackle, however there was no malicious intent there, he simply got underneath him and followed through with his tackle.

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Gryphrugger October 15, 2011 6:06 pm

Coming from a neutral party (i'm Canadian), I'm astonished that was a red card. Warburton has had no malicious history and the tackle in itself did not warrant being sent off. I really feel for Wales, who were the better team in this match, and for Sam, who was just on the wrong end of a bad call. But this is rugby, the refs are only human, and humans make mistakes.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 15, 2011 6:08 pm

Don't worry, I know where he lives, and an horses head has already been organised, so calm down all. Oh yes, he has been banned from Wales, for his own safety.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 20, 2011 1:52 am

Just for a bit of a laugh, Rolland getting up one morning. Not a veiled wotsit as what was reported in Metro London free newspaper earlier this week, shit stirring - google it. But...
Us welsh just like to make a point, then move on while laughing at the self-importance of some people in their psychological make-up, and all that trick cyclist speak.

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BTTS October 15, 2011 6:09 pm

Should have been yellow! The IRB must shoulder responsibility in not providing crystal clear guidelines and communicating that to the players and referees. The IRB has allowed too much inconsistency between referees hence we get so many different reactions. Above all though, Wales lost this match by leaving 11 points on the pitch; Hook and Jones need to put their hands up.

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SonnyBill October 15, 2011 6:14 pm

Worst Commentators ever took them ages to realise it was a red are they not supposed to be watching the game?

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KaKo October 15, 2011 6:17 pm

The rule is as clear as water... 'The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the players safety.. a red card should be issued for that type of tackle.'

It is as simple as that!! It is a red card but the big problem here is not that it was the World Cup's semi-final... It's not the referee's fault that a player does something that is outside the Law.

It's like the call Joubert made during the Tri-nations when he sent off Mitchell. You can hear him say to Rocky Elsom: "I am not responsible for how this affects the game ..."

The big problem is that referees around the World do not enforce the rules evenly... And maybe if it was another referee, the call would be another...

Unfortunately, it made Wales play 60 minutes with 14 players but it's all on Sam Warburton's shoulders... He knows better than to do something that could harm his team and his Country...

Cudos to Wales though! Great game with only 14!

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Disappointed October 15, 2011 6:19 pm

I have watched a lot of rugby in my time, and if this is a red card then it can only be due to this new direction from O'Brien. Even if this is the new law then it needs to be consistently applied. If referees all started making decisions like this it would ruin the physical nature of the sport, in my opinion.

The reaction of the French players may have contributed to the referee's view that it was exceptionally dangerous, but I think if the referee looks at it again he would concede that it is not in the spirit of the rules to punish people this severely for this kind of tackle.

On Clerc's reaction, I suppose you can't blame him too much for initially staying down! But on balance I think he did over-react and he also theatrically dived towards the end of the game hoping for a penalty. I don't like to see this in the sport.

Pienaar suggests that the referee should have gone to the TMO about this. I thought that this can only happen for things that happen in-goal... Anyway, I agree that in all matches where there is a TMO the TMO should be consulted if the referee is considering a red card.

I was really looking forward to this match. I had a notion of two teams flinging the ball wide and having a go, but this decision really did ruin the match. Even if the referee did make the right decision, this can't be good for the sport going forward.

So disappointed for Wales. Tomorrow's game is the de facto final.

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Disappointed October 15, 2011 8:21 pm


IRB memo on dangerous tackles

"To summarise, the possible scenarios when a tackler horizontally lifts a player off the
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."

I'm not sure that Clerc was really dropped from a height, although this is not defined in the memo. Also, to award a red card the referee has to be satisfied that the tackler had no regard for the player's safety.

The memo seems to suggest that intent can be taken into account, especially by a citing commissioner.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 4:49 pm

Totally agree with every point made. Well said.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 15, 2011 6:21 pm

Ok, just not to be polite, I have my hunting knife, Opinel, great steel, and am ready to slice Rollamds heart out, in three strokes. I hate the bloke, totally. He is an obvioius spare part tool of life. Song,

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Guest October 15, 2011 6:22 pm

Gutted for wales, by far the better team but IMO it was the right decision, the occasion and warburtons reputation are irrelevant. the ref can't just choose to ignore certain rules so i think he got it spot on.

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BuzzKillington October 15, 2011 6:28 pm

But they can and do choose to ignore certain laws, every game, every phase. That's the main problem here. If this is a red then there should be several red cards a game. You cannot say that this is a red while ignoring equal offenses which often don't even warrant a penalty, never mind a yellow or red.

It's just farcical. I can show you 100 red card incidents from this world cup, if we're saying this is one.

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jpt October 15, 2011 6:30 pm

Sam Warburton, just ask yourself, WWRD? (what would Ritchie (McCaw) do?)

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Matthew October 15, 2011 6:33 pm

Some people have mentioned malice as being an ameliorating factor to tip this from being a red-card offence to a yellow-card offence. As far as I am aware there is nothing in the rules about malice, but perhaps there should be.

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unebrindille October 15, 2011 11:22 pm

Sorry but no. Malice or no malice should not come into account.

An injured player in a wheel-chair would care nothing about statements like : "It does not count, I did not mean to".

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 15, 2011 6:38 pm

was not in a month of sundays a red card, Rolland just hates the welsh, the twat he is. He has a problem.

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Jatz October 15, 2011 6:38 pm

The panels comments on this video are embarrassing! Francois and Lawrence need to check up on their laws a bit more...

The recent memo that was sent out to all stakeholders of the game can be found here:

Alain Rolland was forced to make this decision through recent directives from the IRB referee manager Paddy O'Brien.

All of you, including Francois and Lawrence should educate yourselves of up to date laws and shut up!

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Jatz October 15, 2011 6:40 pm

For those of you that cant be bothered to download it and read it, it states the following:

"In 2007, the IRB Council approved a Laws Designated Members Ruling which
essentially made it clear that tackles involving a player being lifted off the ground and
tipped horizontally and were then either forced or dropped to the ground are illegal and
constitute dangerous play.
At a subsequent IRB High Performance Referee Seminar at Lensbury referees were
advised that for these types of tackles they were to start at red card as a sanction and
work backwards."

So there you go.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 15, 2011 6:44 pm

Welsh folk song for all our friends here, with their hearts in their right places.

Good luck La France, Bon Chance.

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kefaloskev October 15, 2011 6:46 pm

Fascinating... lots of true Rugby people commenting.. mostly without rancour.. but certainly no agreement!!
My take is this; Alain Roland's decision was, I feel based on directives made in 2009 which were designed to clarify"an anomoly"in Law 10.4 and its interpretation. The directive given to referees suggests to me that Roland had no alternative to send him off.
Having said that, I personally feel that a Yellow would have been a more appropriate sanction. By giving directives to Referees, they take away their ability to base their decision on the context of the game. Was the tackle malicious? Was an injury incurred?
My hope is that Roland is not "left out to dry" and that the IRB make a statement.
I feel very sorry for Wales (my wife is Welsh so I had better say that) and I feel they conducted themselves with great dignity after such a massive disappointment.

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edward_coleman October 15, 2011 6:48 pm

The decision has made rugby union a laughing stock. Yes the tackle was penalty worthy, or at worst a yellow card. But at the end of the day in such a crucial match, the decision negatively affected the game. I cannot blame the referee because when the French players stand around Sam it encourages the referee to make the wrong decision. Sam is a clean player, no melicious intent unlucky for him. The ref probably should have checked with the linesman, or with the TMO, but the ref's decision is final.

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poccio October 15, 2011 6:57 pm

I think the most sensible thing to say is: can I have a hoodie, please...pretty please...pretty please with sugar on top?!

Also: unfortunate call and tackle..but it really sowed how great the welsh side really is, i just wish they had made the final.

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Emmery22 October 15, 2011 7:10 pm

I think the discussion seems to be the rules versus the situation.
On the ESPN site Mike Phillips puts it well saying [pretty much] that it's a
semi final, of course blokes are flying at each other, and referee's should remember that before dishing out the cards.
They spend long enough using the technology to deliberate over tries, so it's not like time wasting is the issue...
He goes on to say the French didn't deserve the win, and went through on luck and grace, rather than merit. [brave, seeing as his club is Bayonne]
I think Rolland was wrong, but in order for integrity to remain, he should take a broader look at an incident, like he would a try.
That said, the rulebook doesn't use 'atmosphere' or 'level' as a gauge, which keeps 5,6 front rowers like me safe and sound.
I was heartbroken for Warburton, but that's the way it goes.

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Oh you are not going October 15, 2011 7:10 pm

OK I'm a French supporter and a part of me isn't very happy to see my favourite team win without panache, and this can't fully satisfy the rugby lover I am. But hey, France got its share of unfairness considering ref decisions.
I understand the Welsh feeling gutted and sour. We, French, have already felt it several times.
Point is: Wales had more opportunities than France to win the match, they just had to kick them right. And Halfpenny's opportunity was a far more outrageous refereeing than the red card. I mean it was a possibility to get a red tackling like this (and you all know it, I won't believe you haven't thought straightaway about the red when Rolland stopped the game) but there was no way this Welsh unreleasing the ball could turn out into a penalty for the Welsh!
I used to think Rolland was the best ref a couple of years ago but it's no longer the case. And it was a huge mistake by the IRB to let him ref any match involving the French.
France hasn't stolen anything, they played poorly (no doubt, even if Parra made several interesting breaks) but with guts and accuracy. If Halfpenny had slotted this kick, the Welsh WOULD have stolen the game scoring an imaginary penalty.
The Welsh made a impressive cup and we'll meet them in the 6N Tournament (what a match will that be!). We'll be coached by Philippe St André.
Allez les Petits. Allez les Bleus.

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Oh you are not going October 15, 2011 7:30 pm

My tag was "Oh you are not going to like this", "this" being what I was typing, it was cut down to "Oh you are not going". There was no intention saying to the Welsh I was particularly happy about the fact they were not going to play the final for example. And in the match, there is nothing I can brag about. I wasn't so arrogant as to nag anybody with this victory.
Just saying.

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Ovomaltine October 15, 2011 7:23 pm

Well, Florian Fritz got sent off for a similar, even less dangerous tackle, by Rolland in HCup. Everybody know that Rolland is harsh with those kind of tackles.

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mendorugger October 15, 2011 7:45 pm

Heart breaking for Welsh players and fans. The lack of consistency in regards to this type of infraction leaves us all frustrated. The decision to bring about the harshest punishment on the field during such a crucial game is in my opinion poor timing.

As team skipper, Sam Warburton has to know that he cant take those types of risks with so much on the line. What a horrible time to learn such a vague lesson. The RWC officiates have got to make decisions about such things in a more consistent and clear fashion. Rules should be set with definite and pre determined consequences for any violation. The quarters is not the time to start following the letter. where are the consequences for Refs who fail to uphold the law in a consistent manner.
Warburton was in the wrong for making such poor decision at the time, with so much at stake, but the league itself shoulders the greatest responsibility for not demonstrating a pattern of consistency in regards to this type of play. What a gutter call. Spoiled the whole quarters.

Congratulations to both teams for hard fought battles throughout the tournament. Big tip of the cap to whales for not laying down and putting on such a great clinic of true heart. The french will not even be able to completely savor this victory because they to have been cheated by the league with such piss poor officiating. Congrats all the same to France getting the W

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mendorugger October 15, 2011 7:50 pm

*correction, semi final.

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Shelagh October 15, 2011 7:46 pm

My head understands that the ref was well within his rights to send Warburton off. Intent wouldn't have mattered a jot if the dumped player had been seriously hurt, and who can say whether it was luck or judgement that he wasn't?

My head understands that Wales had other opportunities to win this match, in spite of playing 3/4 of it a man short and they weren't able to capitalise on them.

But my heart is broken for Wales. I think it's to their credit that France only won by one point. They didn't concede a single try, which is pretty amazing in the circumstances. At the end of the day I feel very disappointed, but very proud of them as a team, too.

I'll be a happy woman if I can watch the All Blacks batter France in the final next week!

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Jeff October 15, 2011 8:04 pm

Anybody disgusted should send an e-mail to the IRB

"What an absolutely travesty of refereeing. I don't think I can describe it better than the millions of disgusted (mostly neutrals) who are posting on newspaper and rugby website comment sections in their millions but for heaven's sake, watch the Warburton tackle in real-time (not slow-motion, it doesn't give an accurate sense of the physics). It's clearly a big man putting a sweet tackle on a small man - if Clerc had been a forward, he wouldn't have bounced backwards and upwards in such a dramatic fashion. No intent, no malice, just unfortunate. If you watch it in real-time, a penalty would have sufficed, let a alone a yellow card but RED?

And why wasn't Clerc punished for the play-acting on the ground (straight back up to his feet, carried on playing) and France for the soccer-style appealing for a card?

Wales went home because they couldn't place their kicks - Rolland just packed their bags, drove them to the airport, bought them some tickets and waved goodbye at the gate."

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french dude October 15, 2011 9:01 pm

what are you talking about? i understand you are disapointed, but you're beeing ridiculous. Clerc stayed down after the spear beacause warburton fell with his hand on his head, and on the other action involving clerc, we can't see anything cause the camera is too far! he gets up quickly beacause he wants to defend! As for the "soccer style appealing for a red card", they were just upset with that dangerous tackle, you would have done the same!
the referee didn't cost you the game, you did! we didn't diserve to win, ok, but if warburton didn't spear vincent clerc, if you had kicked the imaginary penalty in the end, then you would be in final...

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Mike October 15, 2011 8:07 pm

Shameful call. What is this? Nancy boy soccer? A red in soccer would be warranted. But yellow at this level. And the whiny French coach should choke. His boys were pretty free with the punching. No blood, no bone, get up or get off. Play on.

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Elias October 15, 2011 8:23 pm

I think that it was a yellow card tackle at best. He had no clear intention of harm towards the player, rather was just trying to deliver an outstanding tackle. It did get a little bit over the top, but was certainly not worth the red card that was received. He was wrongfully carded and that truly is sad to see when it comes to that point in a World Cup. The player wasn't seriously hurt, nor did the tackler try and start anything. Wrong call.

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Andy October 15, 2011 8:23 pm

It's about time the letter of the law is bein upheld. Now to sort out squinty feed in the scrum and the ridiculous binding!
He lifted him and his legs went past his shoulders. Then he was dropped! No regard 4 his safety!
But as ppl hav said many refs deem this as a yellow. Thers an inconsistency that needs 2 b addressed.
Unlucky to Wales.... I thought they played well and deserved to win.
Now let's see how young cruden can withstand the pressure against a strong Aussie side. Should b a good game!

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GeeDubya October 15, 2011 9:15 pm

absolute howler of a decision!

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Jeff October 15, 2011 9:18 pm

Nonsense. I'm sure Clerc's taken much bigger hits without putting his hand over his face and twitching on the floor, Ronaldo-style. Oh, the drama!

"he gets up quickly beacause he wants to defend!"

He gets up quickly because he can.

"As for the "soccer style appealing for a red card", they were just upset with that dangerous tackle, you would have done the same!"

No, Real Madrid or Barcelona would have done the same. Having a go at the other team, fair enough. Whining at the ref for a card (Dusautoir) doesn't do the team any credit.

"the referee didn't cost you the game, you did!"

Errr... did you read my post? No team can go down to 14 men and lose their captain "marvel" who's a contender for Player of the Tournament, without having their odds of winning smashed, don't you think?

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french dude October 15, 2011 9:32 pm

it's not the ref that speard vincent clerc...
And dussautoir was not whining at the ref, he was shouting at french 4 pape who was getting in a fight...
Look at the match again and especially the tackle, when warburton comes back to the ground, his hand goes directly into clerc's face, and even if you are tough, having warburton falling on you're head might hurt...
Look at the match again and you will understand what i'm saying...

Still, wales showed great courage and talent, maybe you diserved to win, but its sport.
good luck for the future, you have great young players

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Jeff October 15, 2011 10:02 pm

Fair enough on the Dussautoir point! :-) My French is affreux.

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eoind00 October 15, 2011 9:55 pm

it shouldnt matter that warburton is a clean player, or that it was a semi final nor that it was only 18 minutes into the match. he picked clerc up turned him around and dropped him on his head. thats a dangerous dangerous tackle. and at the end of the day, alan rolland is the ref and it was his decision to make. many refs would take the easy way out and give him ayellow and leave the citing commisioner to deal with it but roland made a brave decision. as i was always told as a young boy: the referee is always right even when he's wrong.

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billturner84 October 15, 2011 10:01 pm

As much as it broke Welsh hearts, by the letter of the law, the tackle was illegal; Warburton took the player beyond horizontal and dropped him to the turf. However, I don't believe it was dangerous at all. What should happen now is a review of the law. Correct efforts were made to protect players from spear tackling but the rulings have gone too far and we're now in danger of losing the element of competition in the tackle.
Red cards should be reserved for acts of malice outside the rules, not thumping hits.
At least the Welsh can hold their heads high in the knowledge that they fought for 80 minutes with 14 men, as opposed to England, who limply strung together the occasional fluent passage while being outclassed by an undercooked French team.

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Teebo October 15, 2011 10:08 pm

i havent read all the comment but check the following video,

less dangerous tackle, same decision, same referee

in the end hes the only one to apply irb law

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Eamon October 15, 2011 10:34 pm

That decision may as well be in Friday's funny's.

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hoopsss October 15, 2011 10:46 pm

lesson here is don't drop a player on his head and force the ref in to making a decision.

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gizarangi October 15, 2011 11:07 pm

Rolland is only reffing to the law but...... i still think it's a very very harsh call.

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BEZIERS 1970 October 15, 2011 11:19 pm

stop complaining and see the french choking the abs again, soon, little red men

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WelshSheep October 15, 2011 11:21 pm

Theres no doubt it is an illegal tackle, but although hes lifted him off the ground, there isnt intent to hurt him, hes lost him in the pick up.
I feel sorry for Sam and hope people dont pin the exit on him.
It was a massive call by the ref and like others have said, Sam Warburton isnt a dirty player, it was a silly tackle but not vicious.
Sadly it killed the game as a contest, well it should've but fair play the boys fought on!

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koda October 15, 2011 11:39 pm

Are you guys kidding? This is the worst tackle I've seen for a long time and definetely the worst of the entire worldcup Warburton is a great and clean player but when it comes to that tackle it doesn't matter.

Furthermore I don't think Wales was outrageous on the french during the first twenty minutes. A 15 against 15 would have been a totally different game both from the french and the welsh. Once the welsh were playing at 14, France HAD to win whatever the fashion and they did it. They couldn't afford to make mistakes and then played a very poor game.

To be honest I haven't seen the welsh being dangerous for the whole game (including the 20 min when they played at 15) and they scored a try on the very single defensive mistake made by the french.

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Jeri October 15, 2011 11:40 pm

Not keen on seeing France in the final. The Welsh at least looked like they wanted to play rugby last night, the French just looked like they want to kick the balls to the Welsh and see if the other side tires out from all the running.

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Munsterman October 15, 2011 11:46 pm

I think the decision was a bit on the harsh side but not an easy call for the ref to make. We need to step out of the moment and look at it objectively. Yes, if you're a Welsh fan you understandably feel gutted, robbed, etc, but if I were a French supporter I'd probably have been baying for blood after that tackle. I truly believe Warburton when he says that he had no malicious intent. But look at it from the ref's perspective. He sees a guy upend an opposing player and sees that player go to ground landing on his head-neck area. Say what you like about it not being malicious but it was certainly careless. A few more degrees rotation on Clerc and he could have been seriously injured. The law states what the ref is supposed to do in this instance and in his opinion, there and then, the red card was warranted.

People who say Clerc was hamming it up are probably right (though I doubt any player in his position would have done any different) but look at that video again, after Clerc hits the ground Warburton's left hand does come in contact with Clerc's face, from one angle it looks like he's pushing it into the ground just seconds after Clerc lands awkwardly. I'd have been clutching my face after that too.

In retrospect red was almost definitely too harsh, yellow would have been a better call. But ref's can't work off players protesting "Oh, I didn't mean too, Ref" especially given how dangerous these tackles can be. I think that he felt his hands were tied in this case. The problem with rugby is there's too much inconsistency with the rule interpretation esp. given how other tacklers got away with similar tackles.

I am gutted for Wales. To defend for over 60 mins against France and not concede a try and to get sooooo close. It's heartbreaking. And as for France, my god, never has a team offered so little and still made it to a world cup final! The only solace for Wales is that Oz/NZ are gonna carve them up next week. Scant consolation that'll be, though.

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Oaxis October 15, 2011 11:47 pm

french paradox.nobody see them beat the all black or aussies. but they will do

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Aussie October 15, 2011 11:52 pm

The red card was well deserved. Last week people were complaining that Bryce was not harsh enough yet this week we have a referee that applied pretty much all the laws to the letter! What more did you want?

I personally wanted Wales to win there stats were poor missing 7 or 8 kicks at goal! That's poor you need that come finals time. And to all those that say France don't deserve to be in the final. Need to get real. They played fair just like every other team worked hard may have played but hey they made the final and can win it because they are the french... Feel sorry for Wales!

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Chogan October 16, 2011 12:16 am

Based on all the tackles at the end of the clip. It becomes very clear that many more red cards have been needed for this rwc. If a yellow card needs to be followed up with a suspension, it should have been red to start with. I'm sure most have seen the memorandum from the IRB and that proves Rolland was right. The laws are the laws and any ref will tell you that his first duty on a field is player safety.
The game was effected, Warburton is a clean player, Wales should still have got their kicks and then this would have been a good thing to talk about in the pub. Instead of a river of abuse at a man for doing his job correctly.

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rbieshaw October 16, 2011 12:30 am

why is everyone complaining for one thing just because it's a rwc semifinal doesn't mean the match should be refereed any differently, secondly he wasn't sent off because the tackle was malicious it was because he let go off him and therefore anything could happen if gravity takes over and thirdly why should it be a yellow card if the law clearly states it should be red so the ref made the right choice despite what pther refs are currently doing and as a result he should get to referee the final

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dgilks October 16, 2011 12:37 am

It is very clear that Rolland had no choice other than to send-off Warburton. The IRB directive from 2009 makes it very clear what the circumstances are that justify a Red Card and that a referee must start by considering a Red Card before seeing if there are any mitigating circumstances.

Warburton's tackle took Clerc past the horizontal and dropped him from a height directly onto the base of his neck. The directive does not allow a referee to take intent into consideration as a mitigating factor nor the fact that it is a RWC Semi Final or that it was in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Furthermore, the judicial decisions made about lesser tacklers in this RWC have been scathing of referees who only used a Yellow Card sanction for offences which later garnered up to 5 weeks on the sidelines.

This is similar to Craig Joubert's sending-off of Drew Mitchell last year where he made it clear that he was applying the rules and that he could take no responsibility for the player's actions.

This was an unfortunate event to have happen in a RWC semi-final but Warburton blew it by taking Clerc past the horizontal. Rolland did what any competent rugby referee would do and accurately and fairly applied the law to the situation.

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Javier Xavier October 16, 2011 12:53 am

Rough on Wales; gutted for them, but as a neutral, happy for France. Wales had the form going into the semis. A red card is a harsh, but not outrageous decision. It was a spear tackle afterall.

This world cup is so full of drama; unfortunately a lot of it involving refs. It's the nature of the game; in most ruck or contact situations there are 2-3 penalties to be awarded, deciding which ones are material and how harshly to punish is a subjective decision. People will always question the refs after these big games. But these big games are exactly what makes the WC so great.

It is tough to say who had more guts: Wales in a losing effort or AUS in a winning one last week. One thing is for sure: Welsh fans handle a loss and anger at the ref with a lot more class than the Saffas (which of course had lots of legitimate reasons to be angry at the ref). Culture, I guess. Both RSA and Wales failed to take their chances. In the end the loss is theirs, not the refs.

Another thing is sure: AUS and FR will have to take enormous steps forwards or else this will be an easy path for the AB's WC victory. Then again, the AB's are the best team. Not that this means anything in this WC, as we have seen...

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Buzzref101 October 16, 2011 1:23 am

I am both a referee and whole-hearted welshman so am extremely disappointed to see my country out of the world cup...
However I must defend Allain Rolland as he seems to be getting some stick here. Yes it is a shame that Sam got sent off but Rolland was following the exact letter of the law in his decision, as the player did go beyond the 180 degrees and was not bought back to the ground with due care. Slamming a player down may sound worse that being dropped but the slam is controlled whilst a fall is not preventable in anyway, almost increasing the likelihood of injury.
It was an absolute travesty that we didn't make it to the final but it was not the fault of Allain Rolland..

Come on you Wales !

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Bobby October 16, 2011 2:03 am

Sorry, but Sam Warburton has nobody to blame but himself. There was nothing to stop him driving Clerc backwards once he got the hit on.

Instead, he pulls up Clerc's leg with his left arm and upends him. Then he lets him go. Simple red card offence. He also follows through with a the butt of his palm on Clerc's jaw.

I can only guess Warburton was trying to send a message to Clerc not to bother running down his channel.

SPlit second of madness in an outstanding world cup for Warburton.

Can you put it down to inexperience?

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Demosys October 16, 2011 2:33 am

Red card is deserve. If we look back in the RWC all spear tackles get a least a yellow and few weeks suspension. So the decision is really coherent.
For me it's more a terrible mistake from Warburton than from Mr Alain Roland. All players are aware that the IRB is very severe with dangerous tackle.
And stop sayong that we can't give a red card is a semi final or a final.
Courageous decision from Alain Rolland.

But I agree that it completely kill the game.

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zacaria October 16, 2011 3:00 am

Being a neutral for this one, i was definitely disappointed at the decision, it was a definite red card but as said earlier based on decisions made already in the world cup over these kind of tackles it would have been more consistent to be given a yellow. A decision like that should have at least been discussed with the touch judges, as it has had a big impact on the outcome of the world cup. In saying that im much happier as an aussie to vs. france than wales in the final.

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bluegum October 16, 2011 3:30 am

I tend to agree with Chogan on this. Refs have clamped down on this type of tackling for a few years now, yet they haven't been as tough with their on-field sanctions as the IRB intends, going on the wording in their rules and directives.
And the reason is good: the head is sacred. Think how many high tackles there used to be and then, with rule changes and players adjusting their techniques, it's become infrequent for players to inflict bad head-high tackles. Rugby is safer game now in that respect. In the same way the spear/tip/dump tackle can also be removed from the game.
Smart coaches will be looking at ways to train their players out of the lift tackle or at least how to put the tackled player down safely. Maybe a change in thinking is needed: if you have the size, strength and technique to lift a guy, why not instead focus on driving him back, whilst upright - offensive defense. This would be of greater advantage to your side.
Now that it's happened in a huge WC match, this issue should get the attention it deserves.
On another point, I was amazed to hear the commentator on this video play down the tackle. On the NZ commentary, they immediately were talking red card.

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GuestyGuest October 16, 2011 3:53 am

I think it's odd that no one is putting any blame on Sam Warburton. I probably would go with a yellow card for this, not red, but doesn't the player have any responsibility for his actions?

I completely believe that he is a nice guy without an intent to break Vincent Clerc's neck.

But you can also see his arms lift and rotate Clerc past horizontal. It is obviously NOT a case of a textbook tackle driving upwards and then the player falling naturally. Warburton is clearly lifting and rotating his grasp on Clerc to bring his legs up above his head. I don't see how that can be argued.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 16, 2011 6:22 am

Have just about calmed down - Rolland, GRRR! - down boy, down, think of your blood pressure. Wales now need to go for the third place playoff like men possessed.

And, oh yes, go Oz, to recover some of my betting money. Hope this morning's game will not be pre-organised as yesterday's one, if you get what I mean...

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french dude October 16, 2011 9:06 am

i don't get what you mean! the game was not pre-organised! the ref made mistakes, but he clearly wasn't for wales! the red for warburton is hard but fair, the penalty in the end is invented! mistake in each side... you lost beacause you weren't able to get one kick over.
Still, good luck with your talented new generation

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 16, 2011 9:18 am

Of course it was pre-organised. Any simple man will only come to an explanation of Rolland's decision. And by the way, he is a Robodirect league ref, but we won't see him in Wales/Cymru soon, the yellow bellied c*nt he is. He was an useless Ireland scrum-half back in his totallt lttle day, too. He';s a total small cocked knob. And also, don't bother me again, french dude, and giving me arsey arguements.

And by the way, loaded my local betting shop with Wales/Cymru vee NZ/kiwis in third place game, with Wales/Cymru winning it by a mile.

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Heavyscrum October 16, 2011 9:23 am

IRB should re-allow spear tackle. Vincent Clerc whould have paid a bit more attention to his body height and Warburton's position...

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 16, 2011 9:34 am

Alain Rolland - you are a total, total c*nt. Ypu have destroyed this world cup as a specticle. Don't come to Wales/Cymru ever, ever again, if you think of your health. You disgusting small man. And I remember when you played scrum-half for Ireland, you were pathetic. You're a c*nt Rolland, a total total c*nt. see you boyo later.

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 10:00 am

Haha rugby union has become so fucking soft. It's total shit.

When will they ban scrums, line outs and tackling full stop? All of these are technically dangerous. Vincent Clerc's acting was worse than anything in soccer, another feature of this World Cup also, playacting.

The most memorable moments of this World Cup have all centred around the match officials.

Union is for pussies.

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Heavyscrum October 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Vincent Clerc was not acting to my opinion, he's just a bit fragile... A good guy with great pace, but not as hard as he should be.

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Ash October 16, 2011 10:54 am

Personally I think it was a red card. Having been on the receiving end of similar spear tackle I know for a fact it's not so much the pain it inflicts but the risks and fear it produces. I remember at the moment of impact you do straight away fear something terrible has happened. To say like some people have suggested that as there was no injury in this type of tackle is nonsense. If someone in football/soccer lunged in two footed, late and high up on the leg and breaks the players leg then it doesn't make it less serious or less dangerous than if he'd done the same except missed. I commend the ref for finally having the courage to take a stand and take the right action against what is a very serious offence. It's not like Rolland hasn't been consistent either, he sent off Fritz (I think) for something similar in the Heineken cup earlier this year so he's being consistent and he is following the law to the letter which is correct. You can't say just because it's a semi final he should have been let off as the rules are the rules, and they apply from under 14's rugby on a Saturday morning right up to the top level of international rugby.

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Bunn October 16, 2011 11:29 am

It may have been the letter of the law, but the law is wrong. A red card for a minor, offence which caused no damage, there was no malice and completely killed the game. Clerc played it up as he did in the Canada game. The laws now mean many tackles that were lauded in the past are now illegal ( . France getting through has many a mockery of the world cup and they will get torn apart by the All Blacks. Also a "spear" tackle involves throwing someone to the ground like a spear, which was not the case in this instance, it was a recent invention the "tip" tackle

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ForzaItalia October 16, 2011 11:43 am

Funny to see all these comments. Rolland is consistent. He showed a red card to Fritz in a H-cup game for a less dangerous tackle. This one was a red card for me as the laws says it is.

Also, I don't see any reason why the refereeing should depend on the game or the player's past.

France are in the final and I see no problem with it. 9 is a greater number than 8 so they are in the final. Wales had so many kicking opportunity missed...

I see no error in favor of the french from the referee.
I would even tend to say the contrary: The 75th minute penalty given to Wales which could have changed the results should not have been a penalty to Wales but to France...(And ITV commentator said it by the way "[Welsh player name on the ground] will be happy to get away with it " I think - yeah I live in the UK)

France were not great...ok I agree with that but I don't see any injustice.
Those attacking the referee integrity..calm down you are a disgrace to our sport!

France seem to be on maybe they'll produce a good game against NZ.

Have fun and a lovely day!

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TCCalvin October 16, 2011 12:44 pm

Will this site be changing to

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Jeff October 16, 2011 1:31 pm

The ruination of rugby union will be the health & safety brigade. Hmmm... what else could cause serious injury? Let's make all physical contact a red card offense because I know someone who got seriously hurt that way. Jeez, the apologists for this decision have lost all common sense and reason.

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Oh you are not going October 16, 2011 1:33 pm

A few stats about the match:

Possession: Wales 59 percent France 41 percent
Territory: Wales 60 percent France 40 percent
Own scrums: Wales 8 France 6
Own lineouts: Wales 21 France 13
Tackles made: Wales 56 France 126
Tackles missed: Wales 3 France 12
Clean line breaks: Wales 1 France 2
Offloads: Wales 4 France 1
Penalties conceded: Wales 7 France 6
Handling errors: Wales 10 France 11

Like it or not, winning the match with so little possession and territory is a feat.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:30 pm

Agreed. I don't take anything away from France. I don't blame Rolland either. He followed the law. It is a shame however that other referees during this RWC have not. It's also a shame that there is no distinction made in the law for tackles of this nature made with or without "intent". This was no "Spear Tackle" as everyone seems to be labelling it. To "spear" implies the application of force in a thrusting motion. Simple English language. This was a "Tip Tackle". Unfortunately the laws do not make this distinction. In my opinion this, as well as other various laws, is ruining the game of Rugby Union. Don't get me wrong the Players safety is paramount, however common sense must be used. If a scrum goes down do the front rows get Red Cards? No. Yet the enourmous pressures exerted on fron row players are far more likely to cause broken necks and paralysis if not loss of life if scrums collapse and players fall awkwardly. Rugby IS a contact sport after all, in playing the game you expose yourself to inherent risks. This tackle yesterday was certainly dangerous and worthy of a yellow card, but in no way can it be considered a "spear." Should Wales have won anyway? Given the 7-10 point swing a 10 minute sin binning usually creates then certainly not. But they could have. They showed amazing courage and fitness. Tactical errors following the sin binning (using Jamie Roberts as a flanker) were made, and key kicks were missed (totally agree that there is NO way Halfpenny's penalty was actually a Penalty). France defended well and can hold their heads up high for the defensive effort. However given how little they offered to the game, and given the staggering odds of a 14 man team even coming close to containing a 15 man team for that length of time I would say the remaining Wales players deserved something from the game.None of this changes what happened yesterday. None of these arguments will ever do that. It's immaterial. Good luck to France and the AB's for the final

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:44 pm

Correction. Halfenny's penalty WAS a penalty... but should have been awarded to France for some Sharp work by the legend that is Harinordaquay.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:44 pm

Correction. Halfenny's penalty WAS a penalty... but should have been awarded to France for some Sharp work by the legend that is Harinordaquay.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:44 pm

Correction. Halfenny's penalty WAS a penalty... but should have been awarded to France for some Sharp work by the legend that is Harinordaquay.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:44 pm

Correction. Halfenny's penalty WAS a penalty... but should have been awarded to France for some Sharp work by the legend that is Harinordaquay.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:46 pm

...Bloody computer...

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GunshowMckenzie October 16, 2011 1:52 pm

I agree that League players and fans must be thinking Rugby Union is a joke. In my opinion that was a great hard tackle, and I would have thought the only problem was the drop. He landed flat on his back so I don't see how it was a spear. At age grade rugby I've seen plenty of tackles worse than that only punished with a yellow. On some forums I've seen people comparing the tackle with the double hit on O'Driscoll in 2005...give me a break, he was tipped vertical onto his shouder/neck. That should be red, I think this was just a penalty. Clerc was acting throughout the game, did it again later, absolutely shameful. If the laws are outlawing big hits then we may as well stop watching rugby union.

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All_Cat67 October 16, 2011 3:18 pm

League is a different sport.

I spent this morning watching maybe 100 boys aged 11 and under playing rugby. Shoulder barges, high tackles, tackles off-the-ball galore. Only one boy - by far the smallest player in his age group - was able to tackle properly. He brought down players twice his size with ease, as one should do in union.

The travesty is how players and coaches seem to prefer macho non-tackling to decent technique.

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RHD80 October 16, 2011 5:39 pm

Agree with you totally Gunshow. League may be a different sport but the principles are the same - hence you have people crossing over, dual code stars. There is no way that tackle was a "spear" - in basic terms of the English language "to Spear" implies the application of force in a thrusting motion, at best this was a "tip tackle" - when I was young it used to be called a "dump tackle". I'm biased as I'm Welsh but I would have given a penalty and a yellow. No point arguing that though as the game is done and finished with. REAL concern of over the future of Rugby Union though. Have played both League and Union. Love both. Union is my passion, but if things carry on like this I fear it will be bastardized into sometihng resembling touch rugby. Nothing wrong with passive tackling, but a good hit you cannot beat. If you don't enjoy the tackle there is no point playing the sport.

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James October 16, 2011 1:55 pm

All the players should be aware of the rules before the match! they play professional rugby!! If several suspensions have already been given out for such tackles then there is no excuse. There is no need to tip a player over the horizontal, you can see Warburton twist his arms to change the direction of the player. Was he being malicious No, was he being foolish Yes. You cannot criticize a referee for correctly applying the laws of the game that all the players are aware of. No I don't think such tackles warrant a red card, but that is the current law, he is aware of it and has to go! To argue he had no choice about the way he tackled is just ridiculous; don't take a player up if you can't bring him back down

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mogsey1122 October 16, 2011 1:55 pm

At best a yellow card! Then if a ban is an adequate punishment then go to a sperate hearing.
Yes it was a dangerous tackle, but we cant wrap out players in cotton wool, its a contact sport!!!
Dare i say it but if the tackler was, say Richie Mcaw then would the card or ban be as harsh? or would he get away with a lesser punishment?
Your thoughts please?

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GunshowMckenzie October 27, 2011 9:06 pm

If that had been McCaw then he wouldn't have been sent off, I really do feel that favouritism was shown to the all blacks, especially in the final, but that's another story anyway...

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Jeff October 16, 2011 2:24 pm

What exactly do ANY of us, especially the "read the rule" pedants, know about rugby that Martyn Williams, World-Cup winning Lawrence Dallaglio and World-Cup winning captain Francois BLOODY Pienaar don't?

I mean really...

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All_Cat67 October 16, 2011 3:08 pm

What a fun world you live in where professional players and ex-pro rent-a-quotes know the Laws. Warburton is an elite rugby player who took a risk. He got caught.

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vinniechan October 16, 2011 2:30 pm

Well first you can't flip a player. "Flip" means "legs" above shoulders. Second if u put someone into the air u're also responsible for his safe grounding. Yes there have been worse that go unpunished but that's the issue with inconsistency. On this count Rolland gave a red card in accordance with the rule book. You can't just say "he killed the game" In the Football World Cup last year, we saw Nigel De Jong got away with not getting sent off for his kung fu kick so that the game "didn't get killed".

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Elliott October 16, 2011 2:50 pm

All i can say is look at the tackle against Brian O'Driscoll when he played New Zealand for the Lions, and not even a penalty or a sighting took place! I think that says it all, how can refs have one decision for one side and not another, the IRB need to sort there lives out! Wales you done your country very proud i am so proud of you guys, you showed the world what the welsh are made of.

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H_BomB October 16, 2011 3:44 pm

The ref knows warburton isn't a malicious player..all was needed there was a bit of composure and rationality from the ref! The sin bin allows action to be taken, without ruining a game!! I can't help feel that the world cup now has somewhat of an anti-climax, with New Zealand already beating france convincingly in the group stages.

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brolly21 October 16, 2011 4:11 pm

just two things, in the light of the outrageous illegal try by Wales against Ireland and the then reaction "we'll take the win", Welsh whingeing is a little hard to swallow and also, when analysing there seems a powerful tendency to condemn the ref's action as ruining the game, rather than the tackle which provoked the chain of events. Successful diagnosis must be thorough, not selective.

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james October 16, 2011 5:42 pm

if a french player had done this tackle and wasn’t sent off the welsh supporters would be angry. if you lift a guy up you have to insure you put him down safely, dropping him isnt doing so. the french player fell on his back but was this because the french player bent his body as he went down. if he had kept it straight he would of landed on his head. basically sam Warburton should of pulled the french players legs into his chest instead of pulling them up over his shoulder which means he couldn’t control the tackle.
but final call is on the ref. whatever the ref says is final, you learn that playing school boy rugby. you dont argue with his decision, you may have your own opinion of it but its not your job to call it.

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sesimorgen October 16, 2011 8:02 pm

"I don't know if the best team won this match but, at the end of the day france is in the final and we have to prepare for a huge match that is the final."

"I've seen the video and the red card is justified. And it wasn't the loss of a player that would stop the Welsh. They showed an impressive state of mind and spirit."

I do agree with these statements. Impressive Welsh players. Surprisingly disciplined Frenchies during this match, except for the shenanigan at Warburtons' tackle. The decision was coldminded but correct.

Nobody wins a rugby world cup witout deserving it. If the French beat the Blacks they have to get their fingers out of their asses as they say in france. And if they do that, they deserve to win. And it will be bloody tough. The Kiwis look solid as hell. I don't know what to expect from this final..

Hats of for the Welsh. Bravo les Gallois.

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Rodofle October 16, 2011 8:45 pm

Red card totally deserved, the law tells it very clearly. I can't believe people keep moaning about that. It's a miracle if Clerc didn't get hurt very seriously, his neck could have been broken.

I really hope France will win this RWC, beautifuly or not we don't give a f***, to shut english speaking media's mouth up. France is never stronger than when everybody is against her.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 16, 2011 9:12 pm

So we are all agreed, that Alain Rolland is a total numpty and a total utter c*nt? And has a psychological problem with us welsh? I remember him trying to play scrum-half at international level with Ireland. He was pants! And he is banned from Wales Rabodirect league, just for his own safety. What a twat!!

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bamm88 October 16, 2011 9:22 pm

I am scottish with great friends in both France and Wales so i have no bias
To the letter of the law the referee was probably correct, but laws are open to interpretation and not set in stone..... ie. was it intentional or deliberate
and on this occasion Mr Rolland got it wrong and ruined the semi final, In fact he's probably ruined the Rugby World Cup Final because NZ will put a weak French team to the sword easily where as Wales on current form would have given them a good game
Seriously tho this decision in such a high profile game is not something to laugh at

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Maxime October 16, 2011 9:33 pm

Just remember Fritz in this year Hcup against the Wasps ... Same referee, but the decision was against the French side.

So yes maybe the red card is a bit harsh, but the problem is not new and this decision had already been taken in the past. The problem is this debate is too late and should have occured a long time ago. Again the person to blame is Warburton (and the IRB for sure) but not Rolland.
Warburton is a terrific player but he is the one breaking the rules in here.

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johndoe October 16, 2011 10:23 pm

Thanks for the hoodie RD! Much appreciated.

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Atomicclock October 16, 2011 10:33 pm

I think the controversy associated with the decision, as is the case with most decisions of this kind, is all really down to the context in which it sits. Because refereeing in rugby is so subjective in its nature, this adds a greater degree of difficulty. The numerous pronouncements that such a decision being made so early in the game, in such a game or against a player with such a disciplinary record are far from the mark - as difficult as it may be for a referee to do so, the decision should purely be on the action taken, and the intent with which it was taken.

In this case, the action alone deserves a red card (both because it is dangerous in its nature and because that is the way the rules are written and supposedly interpreted). In terms of the intent, there is a strong argument that Warburton did not intend to injure. Rugby is a dangerous game, and this sort of incident does seem to me to be one of the purposes of the yellow card - where a dangerous event occurs arguably as the result of a mistake. If mistakes are persistently made then arguably the player is reckless and therefore deserves dismissal, hence this approach works well structurally too.

So, taking that into consideration, the reason for the controversy is all down to an inconsistent approach being taken with tip tackles (the same can be said of high tackles, as these seem to attract the full range of sanctions). I think the suggestion above that game changing decisions such as this should be consulted with a referee's assistants is very wise, and would result in better decisions.

As someone who grew up in Wales (despite being proudly English) I feel really gutted for the team and nation. Whilst the statement that we have been robbed of a showpiece final is a little unfair on the referee, I'm not anticipating Sunday as much as I was, and arguably not as much as the game on Friday.

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Rodofle October 16, 2011 11:22 pm

"Shut up moaners !" RD, here you have your best comment

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Talent October 17, 2011 1:36 am

RedYeti says the ref should have asked TMO. If he does that, it means he's not sure. If he's not sure, then it should be a yellow card. Simples....
The ref was on the spot, he was sure it was a lift and tip and dump. If you pick a man up and tip him over so his head is pointing down, you get a red card.
What's to argue about?
It's a real shame that Wales is not in the final. Don't blame the ref.

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MG October 17, 2011 4:11 am

I am sorry but this is a clear Red Card; by the letter of the law this is a red card. I know a lot of the comments here and by commentators during the game claimed that there was no malicious intent, well intent is outside the purview of the ref and his decision. As stated in the 2009 directive from the IRB on Dangerous tackles (link in story,) "Referees and Citing Commissioners should not make their decisions based on what
they consider was the intention of the offending player. Their decision should be based
on an objective assessment (as per Law 10.4 (e)) of the circumstances of the tackle". The tackle easily matches the criteria for a red card as laid out by the IRB. No one other than Sam Warburton sould be blamed for the out come, it is his job as the tackler to make the tackle safe. He failed to tackle in a same manner. Do blame Rolland for making a decision by the book; blame Sam Warburton for not following the rules and putting Vincent Clerc in danger of a neck injury.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 17, 2011 7:12 am

Come on, any sensible bloke would say that was not a red card, never in a month of sundays. Worst things have happened in this World Cup - almost decapitations, with no sendings off. And remember the tackle on BOD on the Lions tour of 2005? No player got sent off then, where two shuold have. Us Welsh have been stitched up, again, by a gormless knob of a ref. Don't be so black and white and pedantic to the letter of the law, friend.

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anonymous October 17, 2011 4:32 am

Great game but the welsh never had a fair shot with 14.
Anyone know the name of the song the crowd were singing around the 60-70 minute mark?

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Tim October 17, 2011 9:47 am

I can't help but feel that blaming the Rolland is a bit like shooting the messenger.

Was it the correct call according to the IRB laws and directives? Yes. If you have a problem with the call, you have a problem with the laws in place. You can't blame the ref for enforcing them.
(the latest directive on this was communicated to all the team managers 2 weeks prior to the cup starting)

Wales still did remarkably well and had their chances to win it, which they didn't take. In the end, the red card was Warburton's fault, and as captain, he should be taking responsibility for that (which it seems he has done in pleading guilty and copping 3 weeks).

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Colombes October 17, 2011 9:53 am

waw... when i gave my point of view of the red card incident on sunday, there were 40 comments. now, it's more than 200 comments for a debate which must have been closed since saturday... emotions don't always give reasonable answers.
It was a harsh decision, but correct decision if u read the IRB laws and it was not the first red card from Rolland on the same type of tackles (florian fritz)

French fans really understand welsh sadness and injustice feeling. france rugby had already felt it, in the RWC history.
But all this debate that France is not a legitimate finalist make me laugh. i don't know what would have been the match 15 Vs 15, some say Wales would have easily win and i find it quite wrong. The red card decision changed everythin: in the french and welsh sides: Welsh played without fear in attack but made some mistakes in defence. France were ugly in attack but immense in defence. i mean, Phillips try was their only entry in the 22's...

So now, it's the final. And of course, the rugby world will support the All Blacks.
Because the rugby world loves the "beautiful" game, speak english, and france doesn't speak english, actually play badly, are lucky, dirty, etc... >> Very Interesting comments that could be read on the most intelligent anglosaxon medias.
But true, What a symbol to see NZ win it, this year. As a french fan, i would have been their first supporters.
But i'm french and i have a team to support even if they played very poorly. it's very difficult for french fans to cheer this team cause their game style is very far from the french valors, but i understand them. How England win their WC in 2003? How South Africa win it in 1995? By a forwards and kicking game.

What frenchies must do? Listen to the french" bashing" that they will hear during the week, create their revolution and rdv sunday on the pitch for the final chapter: the only one which counts.

whatever NZ or France win, the winning team will be the true winners, no whiners

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stroudos October 17, 2011 10:21 am

Many comments here defending Rolland's decision and the IRB edict on tip tackles as the right thing to do because of the important issue of player safety - clearly a noble cause and one that we'd all support I'm sure.

However, can anyone show evidence of any recorded example of a "tip tackle" or simply not bringing the player to ground in a controlled way - as opposed to a spear tackle - that has resulted in serious injury?

I'm honestly not aware of any. I believe this whole outlawing of this type of tackle is based on a theoretical assumption that it could cause damage. Well, that and it's a deterrent to the far more dangerous spear tackle, but I think there needs to be a clearer distinction.

I am not trying to play the tough-guy here, but I've been on the receiving end of dump tackles, tip tackles, uncompleted tackles where I've kind of been allowed to fall to the ground many times and I think if you know how to break your own fall you're very unlikely to be hurt, other than being winded.

Putting in a hard tackle and dumping the player on his back is one of the most satisfying things in rugby and, this may just be me, but I actually don't mind being tackled like that either.

I'm sure I speak for the majority of us who actually play the game that rugby without big tackles (because that's essentially what the IRB is creating with this directive) is a far poorer sport.

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JustWZ_Singapore October 17, 2011 11:56 am

We all love big,impressive and massive hits - but there is no place in the sport for dangerous, lift tackles like that where the player is tilted beyond the horizontal and dropped on his neck.

Huge respect to Mr. Rolland for making the right decision. Red card - regardless of whether its a schoolboy match, a club match, or a rugby world cup semifinal, and regardless of whether it happened in the first minute or last.

With due respect to Francois Pienaar, it doesn't matter that Sam Warbuton was the "one of the cleanest players in the tournament" and certainly it can't matter that he's the captain. Referees have got to penalize such tackles strictly to eliminate them from the game we love - and Mr. Rolland did just that.

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freespirit October 17, 2011 12:32 pm

This decision by the quarter final referee should never be allowed to happen again. It has made a mockery of the world cup. In future there must be a regulation in place which states that in sudden death contests like quarter finals onwards , no one official should be allowed to issue a red card without a 3 out of 4 match officials being in agreement. All other decisions should remain the same as they exist now. When one official has a greater impact on a World tourament than the teams involved, the balance has moved too far. You cannot trash the aspirations of a nation and the efforts of the other 14 players who have done no wrong. This decision is Health and safety gone mad. They'll be banning scrums next. The application of the rules has be tempered with common sense. I think Francois Pienaar had it right.

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brolly21 October 17, 2011 1:08 pm

What about Ireland v Wales last six nations.......... lots of consultation........wrong decision..........aspirations of a nation long as it's Wales !

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Pierrick October 17, 2011 12:54 pm

Gotta read the "Boucherie Ovalie" open letter to the Welsh which is quite good, funny, and a nice view of what a lot of french people think :

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stroudos October 17, 2011 2:43 pm

Very amusing.

But mis-directed I think, seeing as all of the Wales team and coaching staff have sucked it up, congratulated France and unequivocally refused to blame the referee. This includes Sam Warburton and I'm unaware of any single exception in the whole Wales rugby set-up. (Actually Shaun Edwards maybe, but he's from England, where we always have to blame someone else).

In addition, I know quite a few Welsh people. One of them hasn't stopped moaning about the ref since the moment the red card was shown. Every single other Wales rugby fan that I've spoken to has been unbelievably dignified. Comments I've heard have ranged from "the ref's decision is final, nuff said", to "wouldn't have made any difference if we'd kicked our points", to "I'm just immensely proud of the performance".

The Welsh team and the vast majority of their fans have been absolutely exemplary in their attitude and I humbly doff my hat to them.

Hope we see one final massive, proud performance from them against the Aussies.

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Oliver October 18, 2011 6:07 pm

you're kidding, right?

Gatland said: “That decision ruined the semi-final. I felt our destiny of having a chance to make the final was taken away from us".

"Mike Phillips slams French "showmanship" and ref after Warburton red card"
(Wales online)

seriously, how can these two guys act outraged, after what they did in the 6 nations to the Irish just a few months ago??

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mlaide13 October 17, 2011 1:43 pm

Correct and brave decision by one of the games best refs. Alain was in perfect position to see the incident real time and not only make the correct decision but remained calm and did not let the occasion sway his judgment. He did not need to call on his assistant referee's advice because the closest touch judge did line of sight on the incident and the other was on the far side of the pitch.

Granted that it was not ideal that this incident occurred in the Semi-final but the ref is there to ref the incidents that occur and to be impartial as to the occasion and teams.

Sam lifted Clerc's hips and legs above his (Clerc's) shoulders and dropped him on his shoulders and neck. The rules are there in Black and White, the IRB backed AR and even Sam and the WRFU aren't disputing the decision.

Finally to all those blaming AR for the Welsh loss, SJ made poor decisions for three drop goal opportunities. A) Trying one from his weak foot brave but should have moved the ball or taken contact and reset. B) being in perfect drop goal territory and deciding to run the ball resulting in a knock on. C) not having the stones to try it from the 10m line when it really mattered in the dying minutes.

Hard luck to Wales it would of been great to have you in the final. Well done AR for sticking to your guns.

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mlaide13 October 17, 2011 1:45 pm

Sorry that should read; the closest touch judge did not have line of sight

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David C October 17, 2011 3:10 pm

Why is nobody blaming the Welsh management here.
They should have explained the rules to their team.
If the management are inept enough to either not know the rules (and Gatland's comments after the match certainly suggest that he doesn't) or else to not explain them to their players, then maybe the players themselves, representing their country, should find out for themselves what the rules are.
Then again, this player is young and like the rest of us, will learn from his mistakes.

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Tom October 17, 2011 4:40 pm

According to the rules he was correct to award a red card. However any other ref in this world cup would have given a yellow. Atleast the 4 previous (similar if not worse) tackles in this RWC only saw yellows and only one was chased up afterwards with a citing. I just want consistency. The refs were told red before the RWC but only 1 ref in the whole competition has given one and it was very early in a semi final. Any other team in the world would've been equally upset. If it had happened against New Zealand i think Allain Rowland would've been asked to leave. If it was such a good call can someone please tell me why he isn't doing the final??

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bokkejonesy October 17, 2011 5:10 pm

This tackle was clearly dangerous as he tipped him above horizontal and then let him fall to the ground on his upper-back/neck...always should have been a red card. The fact that it happened in a WC semi should have no bearing on the decision and should still carry the same punishment. Might have cost Wales the game but thats irrelavent, good call by Alain Rolland...for once.

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vignette October 17, 2011 5:48 pm

Sorry, mates, but there is something I don't understand here...
There is a rule, quite clear (that by the way has been written after the "O'Driscoll Case"), saying that if you lift a player, get his feet upper his waist (>90 degrees rotation) and the drop him, it is a red card.
The ref just applied the IRB rule.
The 2 BIG problems here are:
1- All the refs do not apply equally this rule (many refs would have given a yellow)
2- This rule may be too severe
There is no point discussing if yes or not this deserves a Red card, because the rule says obviously "yes"!
But now IRB should do all the necessary efforts to:
1- communicate on this point to avoid the frustration of having a red card for this kind of action
2- have all of the refs whistling the same way
(or 3- Change the rule !)
I am French, from Toulouse. Alain Rolland sent off Florian Fritz (our center) in Hcup semis this year for a tackle waaaay lighter than this one ( I looked at the rule and understood the decision (even if I truly think that it is unfair to destroy a match for this).
Besides, I totally agree on the fact that this decision put Wales in a very bad position and ruined the game. French rugby poverty also helped in ruining it. But Wales had the full opportunity to win (11 kicking points missed…on a RWC semi! come on!)…and once (Halpenny’s) for an imaginary penalty (Offside with no ruck?? compensation?).
I feel sorry for Wales…what a wonderful side!!
But let’s wait for Sunday before burying French rugby.
Allez les Bleus

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AndrewSmall October 17, 2011 5:54 pm

The decision for a red card by Rolland was, by letter of the law, correct. He lifted him beyond 180deg, and then did not bring him down to ground with good control. However, in professional rugby, this tackle would usually have resulted in a yellow and/or a penalty, not a red card. This does not mean the call was incorrect however. The call was the right one, and even Warburton and the Welsh team agree and the IRB would have overturned the card if it was incorrect. A 3 week ban does show however that this was not all that severe. Correct call and well played to the rest of the Welsh team for holding on as well as they did, and not reacting badly to the call.

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Benat October 17, 2011 6:05 pm

Dura lex sed lex.

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Guest October 17, 2011 8:38 pm

You, my simple minded little man are a disgrace to this site which I read regularly! I feel based on your comments on this forum, that you need professional help- quickly!

Threatening to cut a guy with your sharp knife for making a decision that was correct to the letter of the law, is a comment that should be followed with a police investigation. The man was doing his job, following rules that were handed down to him by the IRB. This guy probably has children, who could be reading this you should be ashamed.

Most people seem to be able to discuss this in a rational matter, you are just a complete loon, end of story!

RD please get this nut job off the site!

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Munsterman October 17, 2011 9:31 pm

I think this 'reasonable commentary' on the red car violates the character limit on the comment posts on this site but it's worth a read.

For the record I still think the red was a tad too harsh.

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Jeff October 17, 2011 11:46 pm

Okay RugbyDump, if this isn't worth a hoodie, nothing is (registered or not).

As a gutted Welshman, I obviously carry a certain baggage on this topic. With time and some distance, I can offer a more clear analysis (stripped of the color that anger and frustration would otherwise impart) but one that nonetheless, leads to exactly my initial conclusion - the red card was out of order and the tackle warranted a yellow (at most).

The foundations of good governance and refereeing of any sport, particularly one as difficult as rugby, is consistency and reasonableness.

Firstly, consistency. There have been three main sources of inconsistency that have made rugby and this World Cup, so frustrating to follow.

Inconsistency of the application of any laws. "Read the laws, read the laws!" If you actually do read the laws, they often bear little resemblance to the game we watch. My favorite is collapsing the ruck - every breakdown, there's players being taken off their feet all over the place! Following the "letter of the law" is an absurd argument, when the letter of the law is routinely ignored - changing that would take a long-term, wholesale change of the culture of the game and not just giving Warburton a red card.

Inconsistency of the application of this law. As we've all seen, numerous tip tackles in this World Cup have been punished in one way and then Sam gets a much harsher punishment. Now, you could argue that the punishment was changed to stamp down on lifting players off their feet but how pointlessly stupid to do it at the final stages of the biggest tournament in the sport? How about that next time someone does a driving test, the pass-fail criteria are changed mid-test? For most of us with a healthy sense of fair play, that's a bummer.


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Tim October 18, 2011 11:09 am

I read as fare as collapsing the ruck and gave up. How can you collapse a ruck?

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Jeff October 17, 2011 11:46 pm

Inconsistency of the lows within themselves. The idea behind the law was to eliminate spear tackles and that's a goal we can all get behind. The "safety at all costs" brigade fail to consider the bigger picture - that many parts of the game are inherently dangerous but are considered acceptable. Many players have been seriously hurt entering a ruck but we don't want red cards issued for participating in rucks in order to eliminate them. By their argument, being lifted up in a line out is far more dangerous (greater height) and should be punished. Boosters who release their own players, causing them to drop to the ground (and we've all seen this) should be given a red-card for dangerous play. Clearly, the laws need to be made consistent with the inherent and avoidable risks of many aspects of the game.

Secondly, reasonableness. Against any other equally sized player, Warburton wouldn't have gotten past horizontal. Unfortunately for him, light and small Vincent Clerc was running at him full pelt. Think about what Sam's got to do to prevent some monster smashing him as he stands his ground. Now think about what got to do to go a step beyond that and make it a physical contest. Finally, think about the brief amount of time he's got to make a decision about how to tackle, accommodating the size of the other player. Given all of that, can we reasonably expect errors or misjudgments never to be made? I don't. The problem is that once you start handing out red cards for this tackle, you've left yourself nowhere to go, when a really malicious, negligent tackle is made. If the game is going to end every time an event like this happens, then rugby union is going to find itself very unpopular, very quickly.


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Jeff October 17, 2011 11:47 pm

So, consistency and reasonableness leads us to those who are responsible for implementing them in the game. There have been many statements along the lines of "Rolland was just following orders". Personally, I'm never satisfied with that type of response because it absolves people of their personal responsibilities but since he has a job and we're all accountable to someone, I can understand it. Ultimately, there's one man responsible for all the problems - Paddy O'Brien. As head of the referee board, he's COO of an organization that exists to manage rugby and has to be held accountable for his decisions and performance, to the "employees" and the "customers". Hence, it's a reasonable request to have refereeing decisions justified and explained (by him alone - the managers take the blame, not the employees) in the media.

There. Hoodie please!

Oh, and finally, all this "French father" business is just blatant, emotionally-charged racism. I'm certain Rolland's just trying to do the best job that he can. The "he speaks French" rubbish is only possible in an area as monoglot as the UK.

While I'm on the subject, always referring to Faletau as "the Tongan-born player" is also blatantly racist. His parents moved over when he was four, he's known nothing but Wales, the sum of his experiences and memories are Welsh, his passport is British and he takes a battering for his country. Where he was born has got nothing to do with it - it's just a way of isolating the brown-skinned bloke.

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freespirit October 18, 2011 10:09 am

Soz to disappoint you but being English I don't support Wales as a first choice. I would have the same view if it had been a French player that infringed. It's not about nationality it's whether officialdom is all powerful and bereft of common sense.

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Frenchboy October 19, 2011 8:59 am

I'm french (that could explain my point of view).
Firstly, there's a rule. That kind of tackle involves a red card. Even if, sometimes, refs give a yellow one for similar tackles.
Secondly, the french would not have played like they did if welsh were 15 on the ground.
To conclude, the french doesn't win the match, but, so did the welsh... The welsh failed almost 15 points, and it's not due to the ref (who, by the way, was in the welsh side during the whole second half time) ! So, the "less worst" won. That's sport.. logical.
(excuse me for my english)

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mise October 19, 2011 5:36 pm

Rolland's decision was wrong, I have now decided, for the following reason. here's the quote:
'The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the players safety.. a red card should be issued for that type of tackle.'

see the bit in the middle: "with no regard to the players safety". I contend that Warburton showed _some_ regard in relatively benignly dropping Clerc upper back neck and back of head at one and the same time. He could have dropped him 'more badly', in other words.

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buddy October 19, 2011 6:08 pm

it still didn't deserve a red

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 20, 2011 2:08 am

Just look at Rolland's face in the top pic in this thread - hello, is anyone home?

What a plank. You ruined the whole of this World Cup as a fair spectacle, you total and utter numpty.

See what happens this morning for bronze, refereeingwise. Can't be worse than last Sat, God forbid. Play your hearts out again Welsh lads, and don't let the fascists bother you and get to you.

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Just Call Me Ehtch October 20, 2011 10:10 am

big oops - tomorrow morning even... I'm getting old and confused.

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a thought October 20, 2011 4:26 am

Wales deseved the red card says the French coach, well he would say that wouldn't he! I saw the ferocious All Blacks against the Wallabies and fear the precious french flowers are in for a rough time.

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Frenchboy October 20, 2011 4:54 pm

Like in 1999, in 2007 ?... Keep on speaking, truth is on the ground, never on the paper !

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ConorL October 20, 2011 12:03 pm

The problem I have with giving a red card for a tackle like this is that it sets a dangerous precedent for future games.

If "dropping a player from a height with no regard for his safety" is now deemed a red card offense, then by extension, routine occurrences such as taking a player out in a line-out or tackling a full-back in the air when he goes up for a high ball are also red card offenses.

In both those examples, players are falling from a much greater height than Clerc is in this tackle, and are in no position to protect themselves, so they should be red card offenses too right?!

If players start getting sent off for everyday incidents like these, there wont be anyone left on the pitch at the end of the game!!

In my opinion, red cards should be reserved for only the worst of foul play. Gouging, striking a player, driving a player into the ground etc. In all other cases, a yellow card is sufficient punishment.

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nemo34 October 20, 2011 2:06 pm

The referee was kind enough to provide Warburton with a card that match his jersey. Now you know why aussie wear yellow shirts.

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Kiwibob October 25, 2011 1:03 am

I'm sorry, while I don't like the decision that much, it is justified. If Sam had just driven forward with his tackle it would have been an excellent tackle and driven the French back. However he decided to lift him AND THEN just drop him down. There were 2 dangerous offences in there and looked quite intentional. While I don't think it should have been a red card it is entirely justified and Allan Rolland knew the weight of his decision.

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Filth December 13, 2011 12:47 pm

This is without a doubt the WORST decision in the history of rugby. Rolland after making that decision should never, ever referee an international game of rugby again. Rugby is surprisingly a contact sport. There was absolutely no malice in that tackle, and those three rugby legends at the end, especially former Bok captain François Pienaar summed it up to perfection! It should have been just a penalty. I would also like to say, to any of you clowns who thought that tackle was worthy of a red card, you haven’t got a clue. Go back to ballet you degenerate.

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Guest March 12, 2013 7:11 pm

A bit late here i know but i felt i had to comment because I couldn't disagree more, context is everything! Context defines the interpretation and enforcement of rules. That early in a game for a tackle that was barely dangerous and most certainly not cynical to get a red Is poor show from a top ref. I'm still gutted today.

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