Exeter Chiefs second rower Geoff Parling was knocked unconscious early on in the draw with Saracens, as both Brad Barritt and Richard Barrington made contact with his head in a high tackle. Both players will appear before a disciplinary hearing this evening.
Barrington was shown a red card on the spot, while Barritt was lucky to continue playing.
As we’ve already covered, in an effort to further protect players, World Rugby has stengthened its directives on contact with the head or neck area.
As with any rule change, confusion can be the result until referees, coaches, and players all have an opportunity to sort through any issues on the field. This can lead to extreme frustration from fans as we’re left wondering how the changes will be enforced.
However, some have argued that the laws should not be seen as new, and that players should already know what to expect.
This situation has already played itself out on the field more than once.
Over the weekend we saw more examples of this as Ulster’s Sean Reidy was yellow-carded for a high challenge on Scarlets’ scrum half Aled Davis. Also, shown in this clip below, the high challenge from both Barritt and Barrington, leading to Parling being carried off the field on a stretcher.
What has been particularly challenging is how to address the laws if the tackled player has lowered their body position before contact. This was the case for Davis and appears to be the case for Parling as well.
Having reviewed the hit multiple times, referee Ian Tempest was content to let Barritt off with a warning, but issued Barrington the red card. Most would argue that Barritt should have also received at least a yellow card.
The Saracens duo have since been cited, and will appear before an RFU Disciplinary panel in London on Tuesday evening. Barrington has been charged with dangerous charging, contrary to law 10.4(g), while Barritt has been charged with dangerous tackling, contrary to law 10.4(e).
As the rugby world seeks to adapt to the new directives, there are sure to be more situations like this in the coming weeks and months.
Credit: Rugby XV