Cards best way to change player behaviour, says World Rugby

Greater consistency needed from referees when issuing red cards, says WR chief

Leicester Tigers’ Will Spencer  is shown the red card by referee Ian Tempest   earlier this month at The Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Photograph: PA

Leicester Tigers’ Will Spencer is shown the red card by referee Ian Tempest earlier this month at The Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Photograph: PA

 

World Rugby has called for a greater consistency from referees when they hand out red cards but will not ask officials to show too much leniency, chief executive Brett Gosper said on Sunday.

A crackdown on head-high tackles has seen a surge in dismissals but opinions have been split on whether the punishments were often too harsh.

“We’ve got to work on our consistency but at the end of the day, we’re trying to change player behaviour and we’re trying to do that in the best way we can, and cards are the best way to change player behaviour,” Gosper told reporters in Sydney.

“We’re trying to lower the tackle height so we can reduce the incidence of concussion and injury, and we know from evidence that that’s what that does.

“We just have to be consistent and make sure it’s very clear what we mean by a head-high tackle or a tackle that’s too high . . . We’ll get there, but you always go through this period of people believing there are too many cards because you’re adjusting player behaviour.”

Criticising protocols

The TMO (television match official) and the disciplinary process around the issuing of red cards have been under heavy scrutiny with southern hemisphere coaches querying decisions and criticising protocols.

SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere governing body, have already admitted to facing challenges during the Super Rugby season and June international Test window.

The body’s chief executive Andy Marinos said in July they felt referees needed to take control of games again, with the TMO providing “context to the officials’ decision making”.

Gosper said the process involving television match officials could see some changes.

Positive change

“We had a working group looking at that, they’ll report into the rugby committee this week so we can’t share the results of that because rugby committee haven’t discussed it yet,” he said.

“There were some discussions, there were some sensitivities out here in particular.

“There weren’t particularly many sensitivities in other parts of the world to be honest, but we have looked at it and I think there will be some positive change but I can’t pre-empt that until those discussions are had in the rugby committee.”

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