In which we talk about cards of various hues, money and, with depressing inevitability, Wayne Barnes.
That Red Card
This week’s talking point has undoubtedly been the red card handed out to Glasgow lock Tim Swinson after a bad-tempered encounter with Connacht on Saturday. It landed the player a four week ban on Thursday, despite his – and his coach’s – contention that he had done nothing wrong. In truth, it was the sort of game where just about anyone could have landed back in the dressing room at any time, as referee Ian Davies paid the penalty for being far too soft on miscreants in the early stages of the game and came very close to completely losing control by the end.
Swinson’s problem, of course, was that he fell foul of the new rule that, if you make contact with another player’s head, you’re almost certainly going off. It’s a rule that has, at best, been inconsistently applied and is rapidly turning out to be the worst attempt to improve player safety since – well, the last time someone tinkered with the scrum rules. Despite this. something tells us that, come the 2017-2018 season, we’ll be seeing a lot more people suffering the same fate as Swinson now that the precedent has been set for the rule to be used as way of trying to regain command of a match.
Speaking of Cards
Referees in Australia are now trialling blue cards in amateur games (remember when that was all rugby union?). The idea is that, in games where the sort of experienced medical personnel found in the pro game are not normally on hand, referees will show a blue card to any player who they consider is in need of a head injury assessment or who, more practically, simply needs to leave the game due to a concussion. It’s another baffling decision on several levels. Why do you need a card to tell a player they’re hurt? If you need one for concussion, why not one for a blood injury (spoken as one who genuinely did have to be removed from a game because they didn’t know they were bleeding)? And what makes a referee any more qualified to judge a head injury than the next person? Or are we going to train them all as paramedics (as Tony Spreadbury, of course, actually was)?
Speaking of Referees
In a bad week for locks, Lionel Maestri has been fined 30,000 euros for criticising Wayne Barnes. Which is a bit of a dangerous precedent, because although Maestri’s comments were wrong, if we had to hand over a week’s wages every time we pointed out that a referee was also a bit of a nugget then this website would be gone more quickly than an Italian lead in a Six Nations Game.
More Super Rugby Intrigue
The thought processes of those who run Super Rugby remain more baffling than most of Danny Cipriani‘s career moves. Having expanded a perfectly good competition to eighteen teams and laudably sought to include Japan and Argentina in the largess, they now want to cut three of the original teams. There’s still no official word on who is getting the chop, but Southern Kings, who appeared to be prime candidates for the axe, might now be reprieved because the South African government don’t want to lose a team which plays in Port Elizabeth, the hotbed of black rugby. On the other hand, Cheetahs and Melbourne Rebels look doomed, whilst no less a figure than Eddie Jones has been quoted as saying that Western Force should go. It all looks like a competition being run by people who have as much idea how to do so as Jonny May has how to run in a straight line.
Denny Solomona has apparently decided that he hasn’t done enough switching for one year and, as well as switching rugby codes, wants to stop playing for Samoa or possibly New Zealand and play for England instead. Given that Jones has trouble choosing between the wings that he does have available, and even allowing for the fact that Solomona has scored ten tries this year already, you have to wonder why anyone would turn down the chance to play for the All Blacks.
According to Solomona, it’s because he feels settled in England and the Samoa thing, well, that was only because of his grandparents, and they’re dead now so it doesn’t matter any more. Seriously, how much more mercenary can you get?
I’ve got an Irish friend, let’s call him Brian (largely because that’s his name), who is never slow to have a go at England for picking players of other nationalities – Tonga, New Zealand, and yes, Samoa. He’s gone a bit quiet on that front recently, because, y’know, CJ Stander, but even from this angle the prospect of Solomona in an England shirt anytime soon, whilst enticing, is pretty toe-curling, too.