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'Staggeringly bad look from SANZAAR' - New TRC card trial slammed

By Ian Cameron
Tomas Lavanini is given his marching orders by Nigel Owens. (Photo by David Rogers / Getty Images)

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SANZAAR are under fire from concussion advocates Progressive Rugby after it was confirmed that the 20-minute red card will be used during the Rugby Championship.


The 20-minute red has been trialled in Super Rugby and now SANZAAR will trial it during their premier Test competition for a second season.

The ruling has been used for the previous three Super Rugby campaigns and in last year’s Rugby Championship but has so far been rejected by World Rugby for global trials.

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Under the law, if a player is red-carded he may be replaced after 20 minutes by another player. The 20 minutes from when a player is red-carded to when they may be replaced is measured as “game time”.

If a  player receives a yellow card and is sin-binned for 10 minutes and then returns to the field after serving their suspension and subsequently receives a second yellow card, it equates to an automatic red card, at which point after further 20 minutes the red carded player can then be replaced.

Allowing red-carded players to be replaced after 20 minutes, southern hemisphere teams are continuing to push for its acceptance and will use it to gather more supporting evidence through the upcoming series that involves Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.

SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris said all the unions are heavily behind the move: “This is a great decision for The Rugby Championship and follows on from its application in Super Rugby. All the SANZAAR national unions – Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – are fully behind the extension of the red-card law trail. As a group we firmly believe the integrity of international matches is very important and that wherever possible matches must be a contest of fifteen versus fifteen.


“Within the context of the games’ laws, SANZAAR believes that a 20-minute Red Card allows for a significant deterrent to deliberate acts of foul play, while it also protects the contest of fifteen on fifteen, which is what our unions, broadcasters and fans are telling us is important.”

Morris believes – despite a global trial of the 20-minute card being rejected by World Rugby – that there is more valuable research data to be gleaned from another trial.

“SANZAAR stands alongside World Rugby’s important work on managing foul play and player welfare and will conduct a formal research project across the 2022 TRC period with all comparative findings to be shared with World Rugby at the end of the season. The aim is to gather the necessary information that allows the 20-minute red card trial to be accepted into the full laws of the game in the future.

“This season we are very excited to be bringing international rugby back to fans across all of our home territories for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic with an innovative new mini-tours format as we are committed to exploring ways to continually improve the competition,” added Morris.


While many fans and commentators in the Southern Hemisphere welcomed the move, it was described as ‘deeply disappointing’ by the UK’s leading advocates for awareness around the issue of concussion and brain trauma in rugby players.

Progressive Rugby hit out at the decision: “Staggeringly bad look from SANZAAR in light of recent litigation; Firmly prioritises spectacle over player welfare; Two fingers up at World Rugby; Removes incentive to address behaviours and tackle technique. Deeply disappointing.”

Australian sports broadcaster Brett McKay noted: “Interesting. SANZAAR forging on ahead with the 20-min Red despite the complete lack of interest from World Rugby in broadening its use…”

Telegraph journalist Ben Coles wrote: “Big spectacle over safety vibes here from Sanzaar on 20-minute red cards.”

Stuff’s Paul Tully wrote: “Tomas Lavanini in a Michael Cheika-coached team could really test the wisdom of the 20-minute red card rule for the Rugby Championship.”

A player who has been tactically replaced can return to the field to replace a red-carded player and no red-carded player can return to the field under any circumstance.


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