Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett feels the time is right for a change in rugby’s red card ruling.
Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio following Saturday’s Super Rugby final between the Lions and Crusaders.
The Crusaders’ 25-17 win was overshadowed by Lions flank Kwagga Smith’s red card late in the first half.
Smith received his marching orders after taking out Crusaders fullback David Havili, who had jumped for a high ball.
“I feel incredibly sorry for the Lions, the spectators and the integrity of this game. There’s honour in defeat occasionally and this was an honourable defeat by the Lions. Unfortunately, that was a red-card offence by Kwagga Smith. The laws state that if you take a player out in the air and he comes down on his head or lands on the neck and shoulder area, it is a definite red,” Mallett said.
However, Mallett feels a rule change is needed and that teams shouldn’t lose a player for the entire game.
“My point is, this is still a game of rugby and I think perhaps we should look at the player getting sanctioned individually and not the whole team. Perhaps they should think of replacing a red-carded player with someone off the bench after 10 minutes. We’re all feeling very, very sorry for the Lions and their supporters.”
Despite playing the entire second half with 14 men, the Lions kept fighting. They had trailed 25-3 midway through the second half before launching a comeback effort which fell just short.
“The Lions never went away. It looked very difficult for them. They were giving penalties away at the scrums, their lineout wasn’t functioning particularly well and they were struggling against the suffocating defence of the Crusaders,” Mallett continued.
“It was looking as if the Lions were going to concede 35 to 40 points, so huge credit to them for hanging in there, holding on to the ball and playing with a lot of heart and determination to get those couple of tries to bring it back to an eight-point game at the end. And one has to say, had Kwagga not gotten that red card, the game would have been decided in those last 10 minutes, with the Lions in with a good chance to win. The Lions did unbelievably well to get as close as they did.”