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Watch: Top 5 Craziest Red Cards Ever

By James Flaus

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The final minutes of this year’s Rugby Championship brought one of its most controversial moments.


With the All Blacks and the Springboks locked in the closing stages of the tournament’s best battle Damian De Allende was ordered off in what was at best a questionable decision.

Since the South African centre clattered into Lima Sopoaga, the rugby world has been in uproar over the ridiculousness of the decision to send him off, which has since been rescinded.

Social media users have bitten into the issue in every which way, and brought up all manner of examples to support their claims.

After all, it’s not the only time a referee has wrongly brandished a card, to prove it here

Sam Warburton
Perhaps the best known of the cards on this list is Sam Warburton’s red in the World Cup semi-final in 2011. Only 18 minutes into the game Alain Rolland effectively ended any contest by sending off the Welsh captain, and after years of debate, it was decided that to the letter of the law he was correct. It then turned to the law as the point of discussion, and to the fact no referee should have the power to effectively give one team a win with his interpretation. Warburton’s tackle was a game changer in more ways than one and has since acted as the reference point for not lifting a player through 90 degrees in any tackle.

Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi
We’ll fully admit that there’s no red card here, but two yellows make a red, and the two seen here were both so wrong they deserve to make this list. Chris Ashton is never usually the victim in these scenarios, but here he does no more than push Manu Tuilagi after a being hit with a dangerous tackle. So for his trouble, Ashton has been the recipient of a high tackle, 3 punches, and a yellow card. On the other side, Tuilagi gets away with a sin-binning even after having performed his best Mike Tyson impression. There are 3 things for sure here, Tuilagi should have been sent off, Ashton did well to stay on his feet, and England camp was awkward that Autumn.


Ryno Barnes
In a much less well-known incident, there’s a lot of confusion and mystery surrounding the red card issued to Ryno Barnes in his 100th Currie Cup match. After the referee made a close but correct offside call Barnes was alleged by the touch judge to have said “you ref like a piece of p**s” in the direction of referee Pro Legote. If that’s what he truly said, he absolutely deserves his marching orders, there’s no place for that in our game. However, a week later his card and ensuing ban were rescinded by the SARU, and no information was released. All in all, it seems to be a case of what happens in Loftus stays in Loftus.

Sergio Parisse
In all estimations, Sergio Parisse is a model professional, a fantastic player, leader and advocate of respect in the game of rugby. So when he was red-carded towards the end of the first half in a Top14 game, eyebrows were raised. By everyone’s guesses, it seems like poor Parisse fell victim to the Warburton effect. He was attempting to hold his opposite number up, but the Toulouse number 8 wanted obviously to get to ground. Parisse had grabbed him by the waist so when he tried to get down he went through 90 degrees, making it illegal by the book, despite the fact the Italian talisman was trying to do literally the opposite of driving him into the ground. Another example of an exception finding a roadblock in the rulebook and resulting in an unjust red card.

Jebb Sinclair
While there may be rulebook reasons for most red cards, we can’t find any reasons for this one. With Canada 2 points down and chasing a historic win over Scotland, Jebb Sinclair ran hard at the line like any good back-rower should. He doesn’t raise his elbow, he doesn’t hit the tackler with anything unusual, he just swats him away with impressive strength. We’re not even sure if his elbow is properly involved in the play whatsoever. The referee however, is convinced that with 4 minutes to go, a malicious and dangerous leading elbow has ploughed into the Scottish defender. Both the players and fans were mystified, and we can only assume Specsavers don’t do great business in Toronto.

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Watch: Top 5 Craziest Red Cards Ever