Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

'That's a rugby incident' - Consenus forms rapidly on Freddie Steward red

By Ian Cameron
Referee Jaco Peyper explains his decision to send off England's Freddie Steward during the Guinness Six Nations match at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture date: Saturday March 18, 2023. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

England fullback Freddie Steward was sent off with a red card during the Six Nations Grand Slam decider match against Ireland in Dublin – and Twitter is vexed.


Steward was shown a red card by referee Jaco Peyper for hitting Ireland fullback Hugo Keenan in the head with his elbow during an aborted attempt to contest a ball with the Ireland fullback. The decision has sparked a debate among fans, with most believing the punishment was too severe.

Steward’s red card came just before halftime, with England captain Owen Farrell heard on the ref mic expressing his disbelief at the decision. He could be heard saying, “Oh no. A red card? He was trying to get out of the contact?”

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

England was already down 10-6 and Steward’s expulsion has left Steve Borthwick’s team with only 14 players on the field and a tough task in the second half.

Even Irish commentators Alan Quinland and Andrew Trimble admitted that the decision was harsh on Steward, who had very little options open to him to avoid Keenan.

On social media, many fans expressed their disappointment with the decision to send Steward off. Some argued that it was a harsh punishment for what appeared to be an accident, while others suggested that the referee was overreacting.

Former England prop Joe Marler was furious, writing: “Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. In fact it’s complete and utter boll***s.”


Andy Goode wrote: “Awful call from Jaco Peyper, that’s a rugby incident never a red card for Steward.”

“Never red for Freddie Steward,” wrote Ewan MacKenna. “Can slow anything down to make it look brutal. Play in real time and it’s unfortunate and accidental collision that maybe, maybe, warrants yellow for careless recklessness. Always telling, if that was an Irish red you’d be livid.”

“That red card for Freddie Steward a bit harsh?,” wrote Martyn Ziegler of The Times. “Grand Slam in the bag now.”


Rugby Youtuber Andrew Forde wrote: “I actually can’t believe that, no chance was that a red card for Steward.”

There were plenty more in that vein:

Others defended the call from Peyper: “Steward’s action is reckless, dangerous and could’ve been avoided with his clear line of sight. These are elite rugby players. It gives similar vibes to CJ Stander’s red card against SA a few years ago on Pat Lambie. The players still have a duty of care.”


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Bernard 462 days ago

Mitigation should also include 'intent'. Player safety is paramount but rugby remains a contact sport!

Jmann 463 days ago

Such a pity that NH rugby types haven't adopted vastly superior sh card rulings yet

Arjayem 463 days ago

The Irish are looking for red cards. Go back over all their matches this 6 nations at all the red card incidents and starting with Sexton the Irish are looking for shoulders to run into. When they could easily avoid contact they run into the shoulder.

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Turlough 23 minutes ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

1 Go to comments
FEATURE Eddie Jones turns to university talent in second coming as Japan coach Eddie Jones turns to university talent in second coming as Japan coach