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'It's a red card, it's not even up for debate': The Rugby Pod's reaction to Fagerson's sending-off

By Liam Heagney

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The Rugby Pod co-hosts Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton have been left bemused by fans who believe the red card brandished last Saturday to Scotland prop Zander Fagerson was wrong. The front row was sent off after charging into a breakdown and connecting with the head of Wyn Jones. 

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There has been debate as to whether mitigation should have been applied as Stuart Hogg was moving Jones upwards at the ruck, a movement that exposed Jones’ head to the full force of Fagerson’s collision. 

However, Pod duo Goode and Hamilton were steadfast in their agreement with the decision of referee Matt Carley who gave Fagerson the red card in a match which Scotland went on to narrowly lose and leave Wales with two wins from two ahead of hosting England in Cardiff on February 27.  

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Gregor Townsend and Stuart Hogg react to Scotland’s loss to Wales
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Gregor Townsend and Stuart Hogg react to Scotland’s loss to Wales

Kicking off their discussion on the second-half incident which was brought to the attention of Carley by his TMO, ex-England out-half Goode said: “There are so many people around the game with different opinions, both in the game and fans. 

“All of a sudden there are loads of these people with names like Gary126946432 on Twitter who think they have got the right opinion all the time, they just go out abusing people. It’s a red card. Letter of the law these days, it is a red card, isn’t it?”

Ex-Scotland lock Hamilton agreed: “100 per cent. The Twitter thing is interesting. I’m not hugely outspoken on there but this weekend I have been on a few things and, as you said, I don’t know whether it is because people are bored or they think there is negativity behind some of our comments when we put them out there. 

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“We are obviously well placed in understanding the game, understanding the laws, understanding the interpretations of a lot of parts of the games. When it comes to these red card scenarios everyone who has listened to this (Pod) knows my take on it: I don’t want to necessarily see that as a red card because the game comes to an end then, you may as well call it. How many games do you see when you go down to 14 men?”

Goode interjected: “But you say that, then Hoggy [Stuart Hogg] scores that try to put Scotland back in front down to 14 men and Scotland can still win the game. It was only a bit of magic by (Louis) Rees-Zammit, a lovely ball by (Willis) Halaholo on the edge to put him that they end up winning the game. 

“It wasn’t like it all of a sudden became a definite result, that Scotland were definitely going to lose because Fagerson has got sent off. The week before, Ireland could have won that game (without the red-carded Peter O’Mahony), so certain times I completely agree with you but for me, it didn’t affect the game and make it a guaranteed win for Wales.”

Here is how the rest of The Rugby Pod commentary on the sudden exit of Scotland prop Fagerson unfolded:  

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JH: “But that’s why they won the game, I don’t think Wales would have won (without the red).”

AG: “I’m not saying they would have won. What I am saying is, it wasn’t like a foregone conclusion because he got sent off that Wales were going to win the game.”

JH: “We should dissect Fagerson’s red card with an open cloth. Going back to my point, in a year or two gone by we’re probably sat at home thinking there is no way that’s a red card. That is way a red card now, unfortunately. 

“Me and Zander were messaging after the game as well, just saying look mate unfortunate for you, you have been class. I don’t think there was any malice in it. It was one of those rugby incidents that happen. Arguably if Wyn Jones doesn’t get rolled over in the breakdown he might not have hit his head but he did hit his head with force at distance with a closed arm. 

“This is the thing where the game is now and we have all become keyboard warriors and we are all sat there what about this, what about that? It doesn’t matter about what about this and what about that. Looking at that and that is what has been highlighted by the TMO, and when it unfolded I thought we have got off with one there. 

“I didn’t know he had connected with the head but normally with the force generated and the way that Wyn Jones went down, the framework of the game now and looking after players’ heads you can’t do that now. 

“Whether or not it is an accident or not, we’ll reiterate, you go into a breakdown with a closed arm, with a run-up, flying into it and your shoulder connects with an opposition player’s head, it’s a red card. It’s not even up for debate. There is no debate around it and this was the tweet that went out there and unfortunately for Zander, who is not a dirty player, he is off boss.” 

AG: “Rory Best summed it up pretty well on the box when he was saying there was no sort of stutter-step when he got to the ruck, he just flew in from seven, eight metres full bore and unfortunately in doing that, some people say well you need that force to be able to clear someone out and unfortunately in doing that, not having a stutter step, not setting his feet before he goes to hit the contact where you do lose some momentum, he did make contact with his head…

“If Wyn Jones has been hit in the head with that force and it’s a red card you have got to have HIA and be checked out. You can’t say you have been hit in the head and say I’m fine, I’ll play on because it then starts to look at other things creeping into the game where people are appealing too much and we don’t want to go down that route as well.”

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'It's a red card, it's not even up for debate': The Rugby Pod's reaction to Fagerson's sending-off

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