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High tackle decision-making framework for referees shared on social media

By Josh Raisey
New Zealand's Scott Barrett is sent off against Australia (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

One of the hottest debates in rugby currently is whether All Blacks lock Scott Barrett deserved a red card in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup contest in Perth.


Barrett was shown red by referee Jerome Garces for a shoulder charge to Michael Hooper’s neck just before half-time, as the Wallabies went on to run away with the game 47-26. Since then, a debate has ensued as to whether it was a red card or not.

While it looks as though the majority in the rugby world agree with the referee, there are certainly those that do not, who insist that it was only a yellow card.

But the decision-making framework that referees should work through when deciding what card to award has been shared on Twitter in the hope of clearing things up.

World Rugby define a shoulder charge as where the “arm of the shoulder making contact with the ball carrier is behind the tackler’s body or tucked in ‘sling’ position at contact”, which was definitely the case with Barrett’s tackle.

The framework also says that if a shoulder charge is to the head or neck, then it is a straight red card, which is why so many believe Garces made the right decision.


However, it is understandable why there are those that disagree with the referees decision, and this is due to the mitigating factors that are stated, one of which is if the “ball carrier drops in height”.
Dane Coles is the first man to tackle Hooper and he is in the process of dragging him to the ground when Barrett flies in with the shoulder.

The hooker may have lowered Hooper’s height enough to make it a shot on the neck rather than the torso, which may have been a yellow card rather than a red.

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Having said that, many would argue that Hooper’s height did not fall enough to let Barrett off, but this does go to show that there may still be some contention despite the framework clearing things up.


What is beneficial for fans and pundits is knowing the processes that referees must go through when making these decisions.

To add fuel to the fire, Barrett has been given a three-week suspension, meaning he only misses one All Blacks game (against the Wallabies at Eden Park), which has caused further outrage.

WATCH: Kurtley Beale sets the scene ahead of Australia’s rematch next Saturday with New Zealand

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