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Lack of 'ethics' in the game exposed

OPINION: Retired Springbok Dawie Snyman has penned a perspicacious and enlightening column for @rugby365com, making bodacious suggestions – including ‘yellow cards’ for match officials.


This communication relates to the way in which players simply ignore or circumvent the rules of the game in important matches, as well as the inconsequent manner in which referees interpret those same rules – which talks to the ethical conduct in the game of rugby as it is played.

And then there are coaches who deliberately prepare players in order to transgress the rules, because the referees interpret the rules differently and consequently apply them differently.

The question that involuntarily arises is: What is the future of the game in 10, 20, 30 or 80 years from now? What will it look like then?

Sport at the highest level is mostly professional at this time and people make a living from sport, but the question that needs to be answered is: What is the intrinsic being of sport along with its ethics, soul, conscience and unwritten rules … the principles by which sport, and in this discourse, rugby, should be played by?

This is and stays the single most important factor that will ensure the future existence of the game as we know it and love it.

If not, it will develop along an evolutionary road that will be totally unfamiliar to us.


(Continue reading below … )

The truth of the matter is, that there is already a move in the wrong direction taking place, considering the paragraph above.

Just look at the decreasing number of people playing the game in South Africa, not to even mention the small numbers of spectators attending our games.


This all is placing increasing pressure on the financial position of our different rugby organizations countrywide. The red lights are flickering on the horizon.

In the past century a relative number of efforts have been made to make the game more attractive for the spectators by changing some rules.

However, how successful these efforts have been, is questionable. Especially seen in the light of professionalization.

What is the solution? Something just has to be done as we cannot allow our game to disintegrate before our very eyes.

Dawie Snyman

If it was not for the two brilliant tries by the Springboks in the Final of the World Cup against England last year, the whole World Cup tournament would have been one that we as Springbok supporters would have chosen to forget.

A new way of thinking needs to bring about change of the existing systems without having to change the rules. The changing of rules is too much of a complex and time-consuming process.

A creative methodology of the utilization of yellow and red cards can bring about a total change in the attitudes of players, coaches and referees.

It can lead us back to the principles and essence of the game.

It could lead to ‘fair-play’ and without having to scold, accuse or disadvantage anyone as the guilty party in terms of the current problematic situation.

The game itself does not need to change, nor the interpretation thereof, only the attitudes of those involved in transgressions.

And it is a simple solution.

1. First change:

A player who gets a yellow card must leave the field (as is currently the rule). The change is that he may not return to the field during the same game, but he can be replaced immediately with another player for the rest of the game. The competition thus stays 15 against 15, but with the difference that the replacement bench of his team shrinks by one.

2. Second change:

A player with three yellow cards in one season is automatically suspended for a month without a hearing. This should have financial implications for the player.

3. Third change:

A player may lodge an appeal against his yellow card, but if his appeal is unsuccessful, a one month suspension applies with immediate effect.

4. Fourth change:

Player who gets a red card (like the French player in the World Cup match) must leave the field as is currently the case, but he can be replaced after 10 minutes so that there are again 15 players on the field after ten minutes.

5. Fifth change:

A referee that gets an appeal against a decision that he made during the match, and that appeal is upheld, also gets a ‘yellow card’. Should he get five yellow cards in one season, he is suspended from refereeing for one month.

Dawie Snyman

If these changes are implemented, I sincerely believe that players, coaches and referees will toe the line and ensure that the game is played according to the principles of ‘fair-play’.

It will once again place the game of rugby on its ethical course which is bound to ensure many more attacking opportunities to the fore.

More tries similar to those scored in the last 20 minutes of the World Cup final will be scored and thousands of spirited supporters will again rush to the stadiums as a result of the change in attitudes.

What a feast will that not be! Definitely not something that I would want to miss experiencing.

Lack of 'ethics' in the game exposed* Dawid Stefanus Lubbe (Dawie) Snyman played in 10 Tests for South Africa – between his debut against England at Ellispark, Johannesburg, on 3 June 1972 and his last Springbok appearance against a World Invitation XV at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, on 27 August 1977.


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