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Thursday Jan 20, 2022

Some of the most controversial red cards in rugby history

By the letter of the law, a red card is a red card. But where the application of the law is clear on one hand, it doesn’t account for freak accidents in the game.

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Some of the most controversial sending offs have occurred due to players being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, that shouldn’t affect or influence the refereeing decisions, but it has raised a valid point of judging incidents based on just how accidental they are.

Judicial decisions on the field are deemed to not be outcome based, which means that the law is adhered to at all times. Sounds fair, right?

Maybe, but a number of incidents over the years which have resulted in a red card have appeared to be less serious in reality than the punishment warranted.

Rugby Zone has compiled some of the more contentious dismissals which demonstrates just how tricky it is to officiate the game.

Incidents like Sergio Parisse’s ‘tip tackle’ of Gillian Galan for Stade Français for example have led to red cards, while Wasps’ Jacob Umaga accidental head-on-head collision against Toulouse last weekend also resulted in a sending off.

Whether officials will be allowed to factor in intent into their final decisions remains to be seen. As it stands, it doesn’t look likely given World Rugby’s insistence on applying the letter of the law.

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