The Rugby World Cup is the biggest stage for any player and to get sent off in a World Cup match is perhaps the ultimate low, given the prestige and magnitude of the tournament.
As laws have developed over the years, the number of red cards seen at World Cups has, as you’d expect, risen quite a bit since the inaugural tournament in 1987.
Back then, a sending off was a rare occurrence and anyone who did get their marching orders was almost vilified. The 2019 Rugby World Cup produced eight red cards, the most of any competition thanks to the changes to the laws around tackle height, among other aspects.
The World Cup is the pinnacle and the big stage. And the big stage can do strange things to a player’s mindset. The occasion may get to them and force them to do, quite frankly, stupid things such as Sébastien Vahaamahina’s elbow on Aaron Wainwright in the 2019 quarter final between France and Wales.
Over the years, there have been some contentious red cards and some very clear cut ones too. Think of the unnecessary mass brawl between South Africa and Canada in the Battle of Boet Erasmus in 1995, or Paul Williams’ sending off against the Springboks in 2011.
But rather than read about them, feast your eyes upon every red card in Rugby World Cup history, thanks to prolific YouTuber Andrew Forde.