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'It's an absolute joke. It's a complete joke...for me, that isn't even a penalty'

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former Irish international Stephen Ferris has blasted the decision-making in the United Rugby Championship clash between the Bulls and Ulster that saw lock Kieran Treadwell yellow carded for a high tackle on fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse.

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The circumstances of the TMO intervention infuriated both Ferris and ex-Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad, with play having moved on way past the innocuous tackle for two more phases before it was called back by the referee.

At the time the Bulls held a four point lead at 20-16 with a quarter of the game to go with both sides still in the game but the yellow card swayed the match in the home side’s favour, with the Bulls scoring shortly afterward against a 14-man Ulster side.

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RugbyPass Offload | Episode 29

We hear about his early days playing in New Zealand before moving to Wasps and eventually lining out for England. He gives us an incredible insight into life under Eddie Jones and Pat Lam, why he left Bristol for Bath and his aspirations to line out for Fiji. Lots more including his introduction to Lawrence Dallaglio, his run-in with Ryan Wilson when England played Scotland and his England debut versus the Boks.

Video Spacer

RugbyPass Offload | Episode 29

We hear about his early days playing in New Zealand before moving to Wasps and eventually lining out for England. He gives us an incredible insight into life under Eddie Jones and Pat Lam, why he left Bristol for Bath and his aspirations to line out for Fiji. Lots more including his introduction to Lawrence Dallaglio, his run-in with Ryan Wilson when England played Scotland and his England debut versus the Boks.

Ferris labelled the call an ‘absolute joke’ on Premier Sports post-match show and argued that the tackle did not even warrant a penalty.

“It’s an absolute joke. It’s a complete joke… you cannot freeze frame it,” Ferris explained on Premier Sports.

“Kieran Treadwell hits the ball with his shoulder. When he hits the ball with the shoulder, there is a little bit of head movement. You can clearly see, it’s on the ball.

“If anything, his face brushes the jersey. There is no direct impact to the head, none whatsoever.

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“You can freeze frame all you want, but play it in real time. For me, that isn’t even a penalty.

“Yes, a couple of inches higher it is a really dangerous tackle, and that’s what we are trying to get away from.

“But Bobby, if this is going to be yellow cards going forward…. and you know what, what happens two minutes afterward? Maul try, and for me that was the game.”

Ex-Springbok loose forward Bob Skinstad was equally disappointed with the call and called out TMO Marius Jonker for having too much influence on proceedings, claiming he ‘had no place getting involved’ in that circumstance.

“Look, player welfare is paramount, we know that. If you think Stephen was getting excited about why it shouldn’t be a card, I was even worse,” he said.

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“For me, that’s a job’s worth role. I know Marius Jonker, he was a good referee, he’s got absolutely no place getting involved there.

“That is ’cause and effect’, that’s rugby, he’s made a tackle. Ulster actually had a penalty way up the field, he’s gone all the way back and actually ruined the last twenty minutes of a spectacle.

“I don’t think that was a very smart nor technically proficient piece of adjudicating.

“I’m sad, the game was coming into its own. It was exciting, Ulster had just scored, the Bulls were an attacking position. We spoke about it being a one score game, which is what it was going to be.

“I’m not happy there. You can hide behind ‘protecting the head’ and say let’s stop for every little tiny brush of an elbow going past some guy’s neck area by mistake.

“Literally you could be playing touch rugby and hit someone with your elbow. I don’t think we should call back for that kind of thing ever again. It’s ridiculous.”

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Jon 1 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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