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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.


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
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RugbyPass Offload | Episode 29

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.


“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.

“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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