Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Rugby World Cup - referees' tolerance of dangerous tackles cannot continue

What on earth does it take to get sent off at this Rugby World Cup?

Today two blatant and brutal first-half head shots in two minutes on Russian skipper Vasily Artemyev, by Samoa's Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u respectively, were somehow only deemed yellow card offences by referee Romain Poite who bizarrely decided that there were "mitigating circumstances".

The only mitigating circumstance in each case as far as I could see was that Artemyev's head somehow remained on his shoulders.

Lee-Lo then returned to the field later to rub salt into Russian wounds by scoring one of Samoa's six tries.

There's little doubt that, had the correct decisions been made and red cards issued, Russia - leading 6-5 at the time - would have had a great chance of a famous World Cup upset.

More important, however, is the precedent that this sets. 

Whilst supportive of referees' desire not to unduly influence games by issuing unnecessary red cards, players simply have to be protected from such dangerous, reckless and illegal tackles before something catastrophic happens.

World Rugby has to get much tougher on this issue. And lengthy suspensions for Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u, and for Australia's Reece Hodge, would be a start.

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