A red card has a massive effect on the result of a rugby match – especially if it occurs early in the game.
In many ways it is unfair to the remaining 14 players, who have not offended, and it destroys the contest for spectators.
Of course, there is no place for any act of deliberate thuggery, but several red cards have been awarded recently for other, non-violent offences by referees (or interfering TMOs), who often act on the spur of the moment.
While there can be no perfectly balanced solution, might I suggest the following changes to the red card?
The offending player is given ten minutes in the sin bin, as for a yellow card. But after the ten minutes, that player does not return to the field, but can be replaced by a reserve from his team.
This way, the team is restored to the full 15, making the match a contest for both players and spectators alike.
The sin-binned player could be put on report (as in the NRL), whereby a judiciart take time to view video footage and decide whether or not to throw the book at the offending player.
Such a judicial panel would be able to take as much time as needed, unlike the on-field referee, and their decision would not be the result of one person’s thinking.
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As for acts of deliberate thuggery, a player would be shown a black card. This would see them sent off for the remainder of the game and not be replaced. Their actions would see them automatically referred to face the judicial panel.
While the above suggestions do not offer a complete solution, perhaps they are an improvement on the current system?