Red Card issues: All Black boss sends warning to players
SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks coach Ian Foster expects the flurry of red cards seen in Super Rugby to continue in test matches this season.
Referees have taken a particularly hard line in Super Rugby Pacific on any action which results even inadvertently in contact with the head.
Red cards once were extremely infrequent in rugby and resorted to by referees only for the most serious incidents of foul play.
When Sonny Bill Williams was sent from the field in the second test between the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions in 2017, he was the first All Blacks player to be red-carded in a test match for 50 years.
But few rounds in Super Rugby Pacific have passed this year without at least one player being sent off by a referee because of a red card. One round saw five red cards in six matches.
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Speaking on Sky Television’s The Breakdown, Foster said red cards likely will also be abundant in test matches if players don’t adjust.
“It will have an impact at test level, no doubt about that,” Foster said.
“We saw that in 2019 at the World Cup when this initiative really hit home.
“Referees have certainly been ramping it up this year and we’ve got to learn.”
Foster said many red cards occur in collisions when a defensive player joins a situation when an initial tackle already has been made.
“You don’t see a lot of red cards for the tackler hitting the ball-carrier high,” he said.
“The problem seems to be the tackle-assist. It’s the second guy coming in.
“I think it’s one of the things in the games in which defence coaches are trying to get two in the tackle to win that collision.
“It’s the second guy coming in who’s not making that late adjustment based on the body [height] change in the tackle.”
Foster said coaches need to “think deeply” about whether it’s worth sending a second player into the tackle in some situations.
New Zealand will play Ireland in three tests in July, then take on Australia, Argentina and South Africa in the Rugby Championship before a northern hemisphere tour at the end of the year.