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Top referee says England were unfairly punished against France

England fell foul of a law that punishes teams to harshly in their defeat to France in the Six Nations, according to former referee Jonathan Kaplan.

“Peyper had no choice. He had to award a penalty try and send Watson to the sin-bin,” Kaplan wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

“To me, that double punishment is too strong.



“Watson was making a genuine attempt to make a tackle, and as Fall was diving for the line it was extremely difficult to stop him without hitting him high.

“With the rules as they are at present it is almost impossible to succeed with a last-ditch tackle of that nature without giving away a penalty try and also receiving a yellow or red card.

“There is no easy way for the authorities to resolve that issue, but to start with I would like them to allow referees more discretion over whether a yellow card must automatically follow a penalty try.


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“Under the laws Peyper had to show Watson a yellow card because the laws are outcome-based.

“There was an act of foul play that probably prevented a try from being scored, therefore a penalty try and yellow card was inevitable.

“But this was not a particularly dirty tackle or a deliberate attempt to stop a try using foul play.

“Instead it was a last-ditch tackle that didn’t quite come off.

“In a case such as this I would much rather a referee was able to use their feel for the game and situation and react accordingly.

“If I were the referee and had that option I would have awarded a penalty try but would not have shown a yellow card.

“To suffer the double punishment seems too strong to me, considering the crime Watson committed.”


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1 Response

  1. The problem of introducing new laws to protect players is the law of ‘unknown consequences’. We never jumped to catch a kick in the past because we were too vulnerable. We released the ball and got out of the ruck because it wasn’t comfortable getting shoed out. Dangerous play was almost always malicious and clear. The scrum was about recycling the ball quickly. A high tackle took a man off his feet. Today we have tougher, stronger fitter players who have started to lay on the floor if someone touches them in the air, they hold their throats when touched around the neck and they wave their arms at the referee. The game is a hard game played by hard men but the consequences of some new rules is to encourage whining and cheating. Referees must always have discretion.

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