Stade Francais captain Sergio Parisse was shown a straight red card by referee Jerome Garces at the weekend, a decision that stunned the skipper, and everyone watching. It was a vital game for the Paris based side, a local Top 14 derby with Racing Metro.
Parisse went up for a high ball but got there early, which resulted in Brice Dulin jumping into him and landing badly. Parisse didn’t have too much to do with it though, as he was there to contest the ball and had he not been held back by Bernard Le Roux, might have got it.
It appeared to be a fair challenge, but Garces, upon referal to the TMO, felt that Parisse got there way too early, badly mistimed it and was reckless, so sent him for an early shower.
As can be seen, and as is brilliantly highlighted by Canal Plus at the end of the video, Parisse had eyes only for the ball. He was watching it from the moment he called for the up and under.
Perhaps his flailed right leg was a little clumsy, but you’d think he had no idea who was around him and being the competitive, athletic back-trapped-in-a-forwards-body that he is, appeared to be making a genuine attempt at catching the ball.
Garces, who sent off Jared Payne for a similar incident in a quarter final against Saracens in 2013, seemed to focus only on how Dulin landed. So Parisse, who was visibly distraught, was off and Stade Francais played an hour without their captain.
One extra thing to note is that the way he shrugged Dulin on the floor was not very smart, or sporting. Perhaps he felt he was faking it a little. Whatever the case, it sparked a bit of a scuffle and if Dulin was badly injured, would have been unbelievably irresponsible.
It’s a tough job for referees, especially with directives passed down from above, but all too often lately the focus appears to be on the result, usually when a player stays down, not the circumstances surrounding a challenge itself.
One might say that when competing for a high ball, you always run the risk of being bumped off balance in the air, so the chances of landing on your head are fairly high.
It seems to have reached the point that players simply won’t compete for high balls any more (or tens won’t kick them), because they know that if they don’t get it, not only will they not claim possession, but they may well bump a player in the air and give away a penalty, or more.
Most importantly in this case, Dulin was okay and there was no serious injury, while Stade Francais went on to win the away match 28-19, securing a place in the Top 14 playoffs.
Do you think Garces got this one horribly wrong, or was he correct to look at how Dulin landed, and punish accordingly? Let us know in the comments