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JK's final whistle: Common sense

Hookers Adriaan Strauss and Dane Coles were both shown yellow cards on Saturday which could have been avoided if the referee concerned had used a bit of common sense.


Strauss was sent to the sin-bin for taking Irish fullback Rob Kearney out in the air in the Springboks' defeat in Dublin, whilst Coles was sent from the field at Twickenham for lashing out with his foot during the All Blacks' victory over England.


In the second minute of the Test at Lansdowne Road Rob Kearney clearly took Willie le Roux out and the sanction was upgraded from a free kick to a penalty with the player hardly receiving even a warning. 


Then 60 minutes later Kearney was taken out by Strauss just before he landed in a fairly innocous way without any malicious intent. It was almost as if Strauss had tried to put him off catching the ball and then touched him. That is literally all it is.


If you are going on the argument that we need the players to understand what is going to happen to them before they run onto the field then it must be done across the board and there should be a lot more yellow cards than they are giving. 


I am not arguing that it should not have been a penalty, it should have. But certainly if you are refereeing at this level I would expect that there needs to be more common sense in a game that is a contact sport. I think netball has more contact in an aerial sense than what was allowed in that particular case.


If the referee had used common sense he could have just as easily have managed that situation by saying that although a player was taken out in the air in this particular case it falls at the lower end of the scale and we are going to give a penalty and a caution.


It would have been in line with what he had done in the second minute of the game and I cannot agree with the decision because it is a contact sport and they are over-sanitising that arena because they happen to be concerned about injuries of players who are exposed in the air, which is a knee-jerk reaction to something that could just as easily be managed with the right amount of law application and common sense.


At Twickenham Nigel Owens did not deal with the perpetrator Dylan Hartley who started the whole thing by pulling Coles. 


Coles' reaction was worse, but for me it could just as easily have been managed. It was not a yellow card offence and the guy who started it should have been included in the discussion.


My feeling was that a penalty should have gone in favour of England because the reaction of Coles was worse than Hartley's, he should not have lashed out, but certainly both should have been put on notice.


Even though the reaction is wrong you cannot ignore the original action, you have got to take both into account.


In this case it wasn't that he kicked somebody, he was frustrated so he lashed out with his foot and happened to make contact. 


Whilst you can argue that Owens was not wrong in the strictest sense, there are a whole bunch of better outcomes that could have been obtained through better mangement of that situation.


By Jonathan Kaplan



To read more of Kaplan's views on the game visit his Rate the Ref  website.


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