Popular former referee Nigel Owens has made his feelings on the 20-minute red card law trial clear in his latest column for the Telegraph.
The law, which is being trialled in Super Rugby, means the dismissed player can be tactically replaced by a substitute after 20 minutes.
“The part which I don’t understand is that you will hear talk about players being unlucky to be sent off, and that therefore you need a 20-minute card as a solution,” wrote Owens.
“Well, my response would be that if a player is unlucky to be sent off, then he shouldn’t be sent off.
“Red cards should be for total acts of recklessness or thuggery – if you come running in from a distance with your arm by your side and your shoulder slams into the head or neck area of a defenceless player, for example. That is dangerous play.
“Whereas if someone is very unlucky – you tried to make a legal tackle but the timing was wrong, or you try to clear someone out but you slip at the last minute or the player moves – then that player should not be sent off, because there are mitigating factors which make the contact accidental.”
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Nigel Owens wants FIVE law changes to encourage ‘expansive rugby’
Popular referee Nigel Owens says rugby’s new Laws are NOT working to improve the game.
The Welshman, who hung up his whistle two years ago, has come up with four possible changes to encourage expansive rugby.
#1. Scrap the goal-line dropout
Owens wrote: “As for goal-line dropouts, I was a big fan initially because I felt it would prevent attacking teams from numerous pick-and-gos near the try line, with teams instead attempting to move the ball wide to avoid being held up and losing possession. But I’m not sure it has worked as planned. We still see plenty of pick-and-gos until teams get over, we still see plenty of mauls and the number of collisions hasn’t decreased.
“We are also seeing fewer scrums near the goal line, and to be honest I’m not sure that is a good thing. The scrum needs to be an important part of the game, and right now we are not seeing the benefits of it. Rugby must continue to be a game for all shapes and sizes, and at all levels, too.
Attacking teams are also kicking longer knowing that if the ball rolls dead, the defending team has to do a goal-line dropout and they can get the ball back. We’ve also lost the short dropouts we used to see from the 22-metre line where teams would compete to win the ball back, or a quick dropout would be taken, because teams now backed up on their goal line just kick the ball long to escape and what happens? The opposition kick it back.
“From initially believing it would work, I would now like the goal-line dropout law to go to be honest. If anything it is having a negative effect.”