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'Ollie Thorley red card, my god' - Prem's latest sending off has left fans scratching their heads

By Ian Cameron
Ollie Thorley of Gloucester receives attention prior to being sent off by referee Matthew Carley (David Rogers/Getty)

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The latest Gallagher Premiership red card has infuriated and perplexed fans in equal measure on social and ignited fresh debate around the strict interpretation of the laws currently been seen in the professional game.


There’s been a rash of red cards as a result of World Rugby understandably clamping down on head high contact – of any kind – which has now lead to one of the most uncompromising decisions yet seen in a professional rugby game.

Ollie Thorley collided with Wasps’ Rob Miller and knocked himself out in the 28th minute of Gloucester’s game with Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. While there was clearly no malice, referee Matthew Carley felt he had no choice but to send Thorley off.

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While the broad consensus among rugby supporters and media in recent years is that players must be protected, this was a decision that clearly sat badly with many fans, not least England winger Jack Nowell, who summed up a sentiment shared by many on Twitter.

He wasn’t the only one left scratching their head at the decision.


“Well what on earth has happened here Ollie Thorley has been sent off for what looked a head on head collision between him and Miller,” wrote Wasps fans report. “That looks very harsh to me. Big slice of luck for Wasps.”

“Not seen that before. A player sent off while already off having a HIA. Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley the player to be red carded for head-on-head contact as he went to tackle Wasps full-back Rob Miller. Actually came off worse in the collision,” wrote Welsh rugby journalist Simon Thomas.


“Rugby has to be able to differentiate between red cards for head contact like that from Thorley (accidental in my view) and Hepetema last night,” wrote Ian Price.

Former Leicester Tigers and now Ealing back row Guy Thompson was one the few to defend Carley’s decision, pointing out that Thorley’s height was an issue. “Matt Carley going through the incident by the letter of the law, step by step. Think he’s reffed that extremely well. Explained his decision and the reason behind it. Right or wrong….done exactly the right thing by the laws,” Tweeted Thompson.

“Intentional doesn’t come into incident with a head on head. Agree it was a tough call, but if thorley drops his height then there’s no red and no chance of a head on head. He instigates it, Matt Carley handled it well.”


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