Sam Warburton’s Red Card – The Ref Zone’s Verdict

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ENS has just been appointed by The Ref Zone – and given that we have just witnessed one of the most controversial decisions in world rugby, we thought a few words from its Director Rowly Williams may help shed some light on the issue…

“The IRB was leaving no margin for error when it came to this World Cup; its Law Book is clear and nine months prior to kick off a clarification and reminder via the rulings committee were dispatched. The week prior to the tournament the Elite Referee Manager, Paddy O’Brien, restated the law then repeated it in a citing ruling for a player during the World Cup (which, incidentally, added a three match ban to a referee’s yellow card decision).

So, given this it would be fair to say that any pre-match briefing – especially one going into the final stages of the tournament – included the advice ‘Do not open yourself up to the risk of a red card with a tackle that could be seen as dangerous’.

Alain Rolland makes decisions quickly and efficiently; his mental checklist for Law 10.4 j (dangerous play/tackle) would have been:

1.Player lifted, check
2.Legs still in the air, check
3.Dropped by tackler, check
4.Landing on head or upper body, check
5.All ticked = Red Card
That clear, that simple…So having surveyed the Welsh Captain’s upending of Vincent Clerc, there wasn’t much room for manoeuvre.”

You can hear more of Rowly’s thoughts on the Sam Warburton red card in ESPN’s latest podcast here.

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