England winger Jack Nowell has divided opinion on Twitter after his take on the latest Gallagher Premiership red card, one of a litany of cards brandished at both club and Test level.


Again the red was produced following a clearout at a ruck, with Exeter Chiefs’ hooker Jack Yeandle getting sent off by referee Karl Dickson for a questionable entry to a breakdown. Dickson decided that there wasn’t sufficient use of the arms – and together with a head-high contact to the Sale Sharks player – felt he had no choice to send the frontrower from the field after a TMO review.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

It’s the latest red card in elite rugby, with five handed out last weekend in the Gallagher Premiership alone, and two game-changing reds in the Guinness Six Nations for Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony and Scotland Peter O’Mahony respectively.

Nowell, who is currently sidelined with an injury, took to Twitter to vent his frustration with the decision: “Seriously, all for players safety but come on. Some of these reds are so stupid. Every player takes the field knowing there is a chance of being hurt, it’s a physical game. Don’t kill it.”

Fellow professional player Dan Mugford was in full agreement: “That is a ridiculous decision! Games gone! Illegal player, off feet in the breakdown, moving, completely accidental. GAME HAS GONE!


“I can almost guarantee if you watched every breakdown and reviewed, you’d find a penalty, not to mention the amounts of shoulders/arms to the head. So if you’re going to call it once, call it every time!

“Also I understand media/the game wanting to protect players heads. Make the game more inclusive etc. But part of the game is at times, you will put your head into a place where it could get hit. Same way as a boxer walks into the ring knowing he may take a knock to the head.”

Many agreed with his tweet judging by the amount it garnered, while others attempted to argue the point. Rugby journalist and commentator Nick Heath wrote: “My take is that the focus on safety means that players need to just unlearn that ruck-hitting instinct.


“If the contest is lost, it’s lost and people should resist that (potentially dangerous) clear out. Not likely to improve overnight but hopefully in time it will.”

The inevitability of more reds cards in the professional game means this debate is set to run and run.

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now