Pundit says rugby laws need to be changed while an international referee gives his point of view.
While speaking on The Breakdown, John Kirwan gave his thoughts on the current state of rugby’s laws. The topic of discussion was ‘how will the laws shape the game ahead of the world cup?’. When speaking about the red card which came just over a minute into the 2022 Six Nations clash between England and Ireland, Kirwan said “that red card is just another moment where people are paying decent money..going to a game and it’s being wrecked”.
Kirwan made his stance very clear “I think it ruins a game of rugby”. The 63 cap former All Black and Italy head coach said that the red card was the correct decision and goes on to explain that anytime a player is upright when making a tackle, it should nearly always be a red card (depending on the point of contact of course). When you’re bent at the hips Kirwan said there’s no way the player can hit high.
International referee Ben O’ Keefe agreed with Kirwan and said “when a player is upright like that, they’ve got to take responsibility of their outcomes and their actions”. When speaking about the Charlie Ewels red card in the England against Ireland game at Twickenham he said ‘the outcome of that, there was direct contact to the head, with force, there was no mitigation”. He explained the referee has no choice but to give a red card in that situation.
Kirwan later on asks O’Keefe why referees take so long to come to a decision when they go to the TMO to review a decision. O’Keefe said that referees have a process to follow, and that they need to make sure that they make the correct decision. O’Keefe added “we do need to speed the game up”. He said that during The Super Rugby Pacific season so far, in games in New Zealand, they’ve used the TMO far less (on average once per game) compared to Australia (3.5 per game). He thinks this is a good way of saving time and speeding the game up.
When asked about what he thinks the state of the laws will be leading into the 2023 rugby world cup in France, O’Keefe thinks the process and framework will be different. He says currently, referees have a “high contact process” that evaluates the high play. He adds “I think by the time we get to the next world cup, we’re not gonna drop too many changes in and we should be all better for it”.