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'Sometimes you're gonna get it wrong': No absolute solution to red cards

By Tom Vinicombe
Asafo Aumua. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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The Hurricanes have no qualms with losing Asafo Aumua to a three-week suspension for a dangerous hit against the Highlanders over the weekend but assistant coach Cory Jane has suggested that it might be impossible to eliminate such occurrences from the game altogether.

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Although it was missed by the officiating team on the night, Aumua was hit with a ban following the win over the Highlanders for breaching Law 9.11, ‘Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others including leading with the elbow or forearm.’

Earlier in the match, Highlanders lock Josh Dickson was sent from the field for a dangerous tackle and will also miss the next three weeks of action.

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No absolute solution to red cards
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No absolute solution to red cards

“You’ve just gotta be smarter in your technique, whether it’s in the tackle or in the collision, anytime you’re gonna hit someone in the head, you’re gonna be in trouble,” Jane said on Tuesday regarding the suspension. “The weekend was just that so we’ve just gotta be smarter as coaches [and] as players to try get as much right as possible.”

Jane, however, suggested that Aumua’s hit – which occurred on Highlanders flanker Gareth Evans at the breakdown in the 76th minute and left the former All Black with a black eye – wasn’t necessarily on the same level as a bad tackle.

“It’s rugby; you’re still gonna get collisions, you’re still gonna get it wrong at times,” he said. “You’re never ever gonna get it perfect because it is a sport where people are trying to move each other against their will and so sometimes you’re gonna get it wrong

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“[Aumua’s hit] was just careless at the ruck. A couple of other ones, I think it’s really big on technique that if you’re gonna fly into a tackle with your arm down then you’re probably gonna get in trouble. Again, we’ve just gotta be better as people playing this game to try get it as best right as possible. It is a safety issue but it is a contact sport as well so you’re not always going to get it right.”

Hurricanes wing Julian Savea also noted on Tuesday that there’s a fine line between great play and illegal play, with things getting especially complicated for players when there’s more than two defenders coming in to take down a ball carrier.

“When the ball-carrier is carrying a bit lower and then you’ve got a chop tackler that’s taking the legs, a second guy coming in can potentially catch a head,” he said.

“It’s very difficult because obviously we want to bring a lot of physicality. Balancing that with making sure we don’t hit someone in the head [is difficult] because we’re not out there trying to hit someone in the head on purpose. It’s that balance, [judging] ‘Do I need to go in for that second hit or not?'”

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11 red cards have been dished out throughout the Super Rugby Pacific season to date with the vast majority being for high tackles. Last year, 13 were handed out in total while back as recently as 2019, just seven were issued for the entirety of the competition.

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