The Roar
The Roar


KNOW YOUR LAWS: Did this tackle really warrant a red card?

Is this the softest red card you've ever seen?
24th May, 2018

It’s the tackle that’s proving more divisive than Joe Moody’s attempted tracheotomy on Kurtley Beale.

When Club Roar declared it one of the softest red cards you’ll ever see, our loyal Roarers were quick to debate the topic in the comments section:

“The referee has clearly adjudicated on policy surrounding lifting tackles. Like it or not, that was a red card if adhering to rugby union’s current position on such tackles.”
– Ryan

“If you think that’s a bad thing, your issue is with World Rugby, not the ref making the call on the field as he applied the law 100% correctly here.”
– Kenny

But where does the ruling actually sit in the laws of the game?

Law 9.18 states:

‘A player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground.’

Therefore, it was technically the right call from the referee on the day to blow a penalty, however, the degree of punishment isn’t as clear and the decision to throw up a red instead of yellow or no card appears to be up to the referee’s discretion.

The tackler lifted his opponent and drove him back-first into the ground. The back is anatomically part of the upper body, so the tackle must be considered dangerous play.


The truth is the attacker’s head didn’t touch the ground in the initial contact.

In fact, he landed flat on his back. There was no crushing of the neck or shoulders. It was just a good, solid tackle. However, because of the law’s broad use of the term “upper body”, the ref had no choice but to reprimand an otherwise textbook bone-rattler.

Let us know what you think in the comments Roarers.