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'Embarrassing': Fans fume over controversial yellow card

By Sam Smith
(Photos / Stan Sport)

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Fans have taken to Twitter to vent their frustrations over a controversial refereeing during the Rugby championship clash between the Wallabies and Springboks in Brisbane.

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After having already dished out a yellow card to Springboks halfback Faf de Klerk for a professional foul early in the first half, referee Mathew Carley was confronted with another disciplinary call just past the half hour mark when Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen fielded the ball from a re-start following a Handre Pollard penalty.

Vermeulen was hit by Wallabies blindside flanker Lachie Swinton in a hard-hitting tackle that was then called on by the TMO Brett Cronan for review over whether Swinton had wrapped his arms and if he had made contact with his opponent’s head.

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Replays showed contact was first made between the two players’ shoulders before Vermeulen’s and Swinton’s heads collided into each other, with Carley arguing that the latter made first made contact with the former’s shoulder.

Conan added that contact was then made between the two players’ heads, but Carley said that the tackle was never legal as he believed Swinton led with his arm by his side in shoulder charge fashion, thus failing to wrap his arms.

Carley also said that while there was shoulder-to-shoulder contact, there he said there was simultaneous head-to-head contact, and because Vermeulen was upright throughout the entire sequence of play, there were no mitigating factors working in favour of Swinton.

With that in mind, Carley announced he was going to hand Swinton a red card, before Conan replayed the incident one more time and argued that the head-to-head collision was not simultaneous with the shoulder-to-shoulder contact.

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That was enough to overturn Carley’s red card decision to a yellow card, but the entire saga drew the ire of fans online, many of whom disapproved the red card, while others were unhappy that Swinton was handed a card at all.

Despite the setback, the Wallabies took a 15-12 lead with them into the half-time break.

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