Wednesday, 22 February 2012

White card in new Super Rugby 15 season

photo: © Getty Images
The new Super Rugby 15 season starts this Friday. For the first time, apart from the traditional yellow and red, the referees will be given the opportunity to use an extra white card. The aim of introducing the additional card is to take some pressure off the refs when making  decisions which can change the final score. The white card will automatically force the disciplinary panel to look closer at the offence, and possibly increase the punishment, if necessary. Also, it will be used when the ref sees a foul play but is uncertain as to who is responsible for it. Apart from that a player who admits his guilt before the investigation starts, may be able to avoid a serious punishment.
Any use of the white card will result in disciplianry panel launching an investigation to establish what happened and what kind of action should be taken.

So, that's it when it comes to what the officials say. We've not seen the new rule in game yet but it already stirred up some heated discussions. The proponents say that it will eliminate foul play and will allow to punish unsporting behaviour more efficiently. You can't argue with this, but the controversy is about the way the new rule is going to be executed. The opponents of the idea state that rather than organising hearings and investigations after the game, it would be equally or more efficient to use TMO, who is already making crucial decissions if the ref is unsure whether the try should be awarded or not. Decisions are made quickly with the aid of technical equipment which is already in place during games and the video is availble to anyone watching the coverage. Another question is if the new card is necessary at all. A similar rule already exists in rugby and was created in 1994. It says that a referee can ask the disciplinary panel to investigate the foul/ unnsporting behaviour after the game. They indicate this by raising crossed hands above their heads. They don't need extra card for it.

Every  attempt to change the rules provokes disussions. We will see how good the white card is during the upcoming Super Rugby 15 season. After it finishes SANZAR will decide whether it is worth keeping in the competition or maybe it will land in the pool of missed ideas that didn't quite work.

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