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.
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.
— Steve Lenthall (@steve_l15) December 5, 2020
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.”
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 #AUSvARG
— James Simpson-Daniel (@JSimpsonDaniel) December 5, 2020
“Shoulder to the head… red for me, Clive.”
Shoulder to the head… red for me, Clive. #AUSvARG
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) December 5, 2020
“Salakaia-Loto must have missed rugby for the last 18 months #AUSvARG Red card for the most red card challenge you’ll see”.
— Michael Glennon (@MicilGlennon) December 5, 2020
“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”
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.
We’ve got to make this sport safer for future generations, and out of respect for the players’ heads damaged in years gone by #AUSvARG
— Pete Fairbairn (@Pete_Fairbairn) December 5, 2020
There were many more in that vein.
Salakai-Loto didn’t even bend. Clear red. #AUSvARG
— Brumbies Boy (@brumby_fan) December 5, 2020
Let's not do the "that's not a red card, game's gone soft" thing again.
— Brendan Bradford (@1bbradfo) December 5, 2020
That had to be red #AUSvARG
— CraigCarlyon.com (@CraigCarlyon) December 5, 2020
— Barry Scharneck (@barry_scharneck) December 5, 2020
Salakaia-Loto, coach killer…gave away a stupid penalty by pulling in the No 9, then a silly high hit for the red card….all in 9 minutes. Rennie will be filthy #coachkiller #AUSvARG #TriNations2020 #TriNations
— Graeme Peacock (@graemepeacock05) December 5, 2020
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.
Yellow? Absolutely. If that is a red card, rugby may as well be no contact sport #AUSvARG
— Snazo (@Snazo51959982) December 5, 2020
ref giving EVERYTHING in this #AUSvARG game, two soft yellows, and now a questionable red ?
— Hoy. (@mr_hoy94) December 5, 2020
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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