Jake White concerned rugby could head down football's simulation path after Bismarck yellow card

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Jake White (Getty)
Jake White (Getty)
  • Jake White says rugby needs to be careful of making decisions based on the behaviours of players who have been tackled or cleaned out. 
  • The Bulls mentor was responding to the yellow card that substitute Bismarck du Plessis received against Ulster on Saturday. 
  • White felt the hit was perfectly legal. 

Bulls coach Jake White is concerned that rugby could be heading down football's path, where simulation influences decisions. 

White was addressing media following his side's 32-23 United Rugby Championship (URC) loss to Ulster in Belfast on Saturday night, and when asked specifically about the yellow card that substitute Bismarck du Plessis received towards the end of the match, he was blunt in his assessment. 

Ulster were leading 29-23 at the time, and the Bulls were still very much in the contest, but the yellow card effectively killed their chances. 

READ | Bulls stumble after strong start against Ulster, fall to another defeat

There appeared to be nothing wrong with Du Plessis' hit on Ulster flyhalf Billy Burns - arms were wrapped - but TMO John Mason intervened and his shocking recommendation was a yellow card. 

It was a decision that even Ulster supporters found harsh, given the reaction inside Kingspan Stadium. 

"Cleanouts like that are all over the game, so I didn't even think it was a penalty," White said after the match. 

"I often wonder, if their No 10 hadn't laid down on the ground, whether that would have been looked at.

"It's something we'll have to look at going forward, because what you don't want is a player lying down every time he gets cleaned out and he makes the TMO look.

"It's something we've got to be careful of, because I know it happened in football, and then all of a sudden they brought something in that if you dive, you can get sent off (carded).

"In rugby now because there is such a fine line between yellow cards, red cards and TMO involvement ... [you don't want] the players trying to use every opportunity to influence the TMO."

The Bulls were also dealt a yellow card shortly after the resumption of the second half after they had manufactured a 20-12 lead going into the break. 

Cards aside, the visitors did not have the consistency in execution they had in the first period, while Ulster grew stronger as the contest progressed. 

The result was the Bulls' fifth straight loss in the competition, and while White has acknowledged this to be a difficult period, he said there were encouraging signs from Saturday's outing. 

"I thought we played really well," said White.

"I don't think the scoreline is a true reflection of the way we played, but it seems to be one of those seasons where we do all the hard work and just can't seem to get over the last hurdle.

"People often talk about a game of two halves, and that was a game of two halves.

"We obviously haven't won for a while and the confidence is a bit low, but there are positives. 

"It's a difficult one, and it tests everybody - coaches and players, but we've got two games at home now, and we have to make sure we take some of that performance and then get over the last hurdle."

The Bulls, seventh on the URC standings and in a fight to make the playoffs, finish their regular season with matches against Zebre and Leinster at Loftus.

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