Red cards have become increasingly common in today’s game, due in part to the new crackdown on head contact and World Rugby’s emphasis on player welfare.
It has left some sending offs being deemed as ‘harsh but fair’, with even the most minimal head contact resulting in the same punishment. But, over the years, some incidents have been unequivocal, leaving few in any doubt that dismissal has been justified.
Andrew Forde has put together the second compilation of the most brutal red cards in the game, which takes some effort to not wince.
Right up there as possibly the most violent and justified red card in the history of the sport came in 2001, during the British and Irish Lions match with the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney.
That was the match where full back Duncan McRae unleashed himself on Ronan O’Gara, dealing almost a dozen punches to the head, causing significant damage to the Irish international’s face.
Others include the crazed Bourgoin team against Northampton in 2009 where two of their players got given their marching orders in what proved to be an incredibly edgy and violent European Challenge Cup match at Franklins Gardens.
It’s not pretty watching, but if there’s one silver lining to this compilation, it’s that with all the cameras and referees involved in the game these days, violent acts like these are thankfully very rare indeed.