More urgent Card Problems

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I mentioned a worrying tackle in the Wales v USA match ( 2023/10/01/two-down-three-to-go-wales-prove-their-worth/). On the advice of the TMO, Andrew McMenemy, the referee, Clara Munarini showed USA’s Eti Haungatau a yellow card.

It is now known that Haungatau has been cited for dangerous play and will appear before a disciplinary committee consisting of Jennifer Donovan (chair, Ireland) along with former internationals Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) and Ofisa Junior Tonu’u (New Zealand). The meeting takes place on 5 October.

To repeat: the current difficulty is to find the right balance between the inherent danger of a tackle and any possible mitigation. The suspicion has arisen that referees seek to find mitigation to avoid having to flourish a red card. That’s as may be.

But the essence of this case is that the player on the receiving end, Robyn Wilkns, the Wales No 10, was stooping low to gather a ball skidding through from a kick ahead by the same Haungatau. To tackle the receiver the onrusher had to stoop low herself.

But the resulting collision horrified Wilkins’ teammates closest to the scene. One or two were moved to make their feelings known to the supposed offender. By a stroke of the greatest irony, Munarini, letting the game continue, was able to award the Welsh a try from the move that immediately followed. But that in no way altered Welsh feelings about the incident.

We must hope that one result of the committee’s deliberations will be a further refining of the definition of dangerous play, and equally, further explanations of what forms ‘mitigation’ can take.
I have been harping on the subject in several of my recent reports on international matches. A game without a card now seems a rarity.

With 27 tests coming up between now and the start of November in the three WXV tournaments, it would be a small mercy if the judicial branch of World Rugby could resolve any remaining doubts about what it expects from the use of cards to diminish the risk of serious injury.