As the Super Rugby Pacific competition has passed the halfway point, speculation continues to surround referees’ incessant use of red and yellow cards.
While some offenders were shown the card for obviously reckless acts, others appear to have been punished harshly for unintentional collisions.
Former All Black Justin Marshall believes World Rugby is trying to make a statement that the wellbeing of players comes first, however, he feels some cases in recent weeks have been treated unfairly.
“It’s obviously a message that they’re trying to get out to the players for the well-being of the players, so it’s beneficial for everyone in the game,” Marshall said on The SENZ Saturday Session.
“Obviously they’re watching it pretty heavily now, but it’s still happening on a regular basis. I’m a bit on the other side of the fence to be perfectly honest.
“I know very well why we’re trying to do this and I’m very pro trying to get this out of the game, but I’m also very aware that…and I know it’s a cliché, but rugby is a sport of contact.
“Sometimes things will go wrong and when you are at the level these guys are at, in that split second it can go wrong without any intention.
“You just lost your technique slightly by a minute of a second, or the player who has the ball or doesn’t have the ball did something at that exact moment that made your reaction different from what you had in head .
“I’m pretty confident to say that no one in this game is going out to get carded or to take somebody’s head.”
Some players have been cited as repeat offenders after countless carding incidents over their careers, but Marshall is adamant that the suspension is more than enough punishment and no further action should be considered.
“Look, you’re going to have instances where players got it wrong repeatedly, and there’s no doubt about it, but I totally believe Scott Barrett is a clean player,” Marshall said.
“Again, he doesn’t have the mindset where he’s intentionally trying to hurt someone.
“I certainly don’t think hitting them in the pocket or doing anything more than what they’re doing now (is necessary).
“When they take you off the pitch, I think that’s when they hurt the player the most. They sure would if it was me.