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'Why aren't we checking that?': High tackle controversy surfaces Iess than 24 hours after Damian McKenzie red card

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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Damian McKenzie was sent from the field in the Chiefs’ shock loss to the Reds on Saturday night and just one day later, many are questioning why a similar punishment wasn’t dished out to Rebels captain Matt To’omua in his side’s clash with the Highlanders in Sydney.


McKenzie was handed a red card early in the second quarter of the Chiefs’ loss after the diminutive utility back was ruled to have made a dangerous tackle on Reds halfback Tate McDermott.

In the lead-up to the Reds’ second try of the night, McDermott scampered across the field before releasing midfielder Isaac Henry into a gap for an easy run to the line.

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McKenzie, shadowing McDermott across the field, was seemingly caught flatfooted and his tackle on McDermott connected with the halfback’s head. After a quick review, McKenzie was sent off and the Reds went on to score a further three tries with the extra man advantage.

Some, including Stan panellists Will Genia and Michael Cheika, weren’t overly happy with the red but acknowledged that under the current laws, the right decision was probably made.

Less than 24 hours later, however, fans were left asking where the refereeing consistency was, with Matt To’omua penalised for making a high tackle on Highlanders centre Michael Collins.


Collins, in the wide channels, was angling towards the corner post and To’omua came across the field to cut down Collins’ run. In trying to stop the Wales-bound midfielder, To’omua stuck his arm out and collected Collins on the side of the head – with referee Paul Williams granting the Highlanders a penalty advantage.

That was to be the extent of the punishment, however, will the tackle not further assessed by the refereeing team – despite it being a clear high shot with no mitigating circumstances.

Unsurprisingly, given the red card dished out last night, fans were confused as to why the dangerous tackle wasn’t reviewed by the referee.

Some overzealous critics thought the tackle was worthy of a red card while others thought a yellow would have been appropriate. Regardless of what punishment would have been fit for purpose, the fact that the tackle wasn’t even reviewed left many frustrated.


While the Highlanders marched out to a 14-nil lead early in the match, the Rebels came back late in the first stanza, bringing the score to 14-12 at halftime.

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'Why aren't we checking that?': High tackle controversy surfaces Iess than 24 hours after Damian McKenzie red card