There was very little sympathy for Wallabies forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who became the latest player to receive a red card in the 2020 Tri Nations.

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Salakaia-Loto was sent off in the 60th minute as Australia trailed the Pumas at Bankwest Stadium, an incident that at the time look like it had resigned the Australians to their latest loss 20 minutes out from the final whistle. The 14-man Wallabies clawed it back to a draw, though no thanks to the clumsy challenge of Salakaia-Loto.

Referee Angus Gardner had already given out two first-half yellow cards for high shot entries into the rucks, and social media was unsympathetic to the challenge by the 6’6, 118kg forward on Argentinian blindside Santiago Grondona.

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While it started as a head to head contact, there was clear follow through to the head from the shoulder of the Wallaby, who came in high and finished high.

Former England and Gloucester winger James Simpson-Daniel described the hit as ‘dull’. “Such a dull red card in the Aus vs Arg rugby game. Players have to learn you can’t go high. Do the same tackle around the waist.”

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“Shoulder to the head… red for me, Clive.”

“Salakaia-Loto must have missed rugby for the last 18 months #AUSvARG Red card for the most red card challenge you’ll see”.

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“Let’s be clear. Anybody who disputes that being a red card is an imbecile. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but the onus is on the tackler,” wrote one account. “We’ve got to make this sport safer for future generations, and out of respect for the players’ heads damaged in years gone by”

There were many more in that vein.

There were a few who were rocking ‘the game’s gone soft’ angle though, an argument that had been made ad nausuem when the Wallabies beat the All Blacks in November.

One thing is clear, as referees increasingly clamp down on head contacts, the viewing public are becoming less tolerant of players involved in obviously dangerous tackles.

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