I see red, I see red, I see red. That seems to be the motto of this World Cup and it has destroyed what could have been a great showpiece of the game they play in heaven.
There have been 24 yellow cards and seven red cards out of 34 matches played at the time of writing – that’s almost a card per game and more cards then any other World Cup tournament by quite a considerable margin. And there’s still another 12 games to be played!
When a yellow card is given, the opposition has a significant advantage for ten minutes, but when they are back to full strength it’s game on. However, when a red card is given, the game as a contest is basically over, unless of course we’re talking about Samoa who had no idea how to play with a one-man advantage for the majority of the match against Ireland.
But on most occasions, a red card makes it very difficult for any team to salvage a win.
I understand that player safety is paramount and should definitely be high on the priority list but some of these cards have been marginal at best. In previous years they barely even warranted a penalty, let alone a card, but those are the new laws of the game. And to the letter of the law, the refs have apparently been making the right call, as much as we the spectators disagree, and despite the fact it’s killing the game and the spectacle.
Rugby is a physical game, and collisions are inevitable. Part of the object of the game is to out-muscle your opponent. Accidents will happen and sometimes just can’t be avoided, especially when someone runs and ducks their head coming into the contact.
Common sense needs to prevail. Not all head contact needs to result in a yellow or red card – a penalty should suffice. Let the contest be just that – a contest – and not just a one-sided affair. The game is slowly becoming the laughing stock of the sporting world and viewers are losing interest.
Let’s move on to the fiasco that is the cancelled games. Once again, I’m sure we all understand that the safety of the players and the public is important. But having no contingency plan during typhoon season is absolutely ridiculous.
Knowing that the weather was going to be bad, surely World Rugby could have made a plan to either move the games a day or two or move locations. This is a World Cup after all, and only happens every four years, and now Italy are kicked out of the competition without getting a fair shot. I would be absolutely livid if I was an Italian player or supporter.
What a way to bow out of the competition. Obviously they were long odds to beat the All Blacks, and the most likely scenario saw a NZ victory by at least 50 points, but to play and give your all and get well and truly beaten is still a much better scenario then being told to pack your bags early, going home without playing your fourth pool game.
Imagine the All Blacks lost to the Springboks in the first game and needed to win this game to qualify. What an uproar that would have been if the favourites didn’t get past the pool stages due to a forced draw. There’s no way they would cancel the game if that was the case. The powers that be would move heaven and earth to make sure that game got played.
This should not happen in a World Cup. Yes, there’s not much we can do about Mother Nature but we can certainly plan around it. Given the early forecast, there was ample time to move the games to a different location – especially if they had a contingency plan. Sure, it would have been annoying, and yes, it would be hard for the spectators and their travel plans but I’m sure they would much rather have the game played, even if it was terribly inconvenient.
In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. World Rugby has failed terribly this World Cup, not only with cards killing the spectacle but by having no contingency plan for weather-affected games.
The biggest fear now is that matches at the business end will be decided by rugby’s ridiculous laws rather than the rugby talent on show. One lapse in concentration and your team could be playing a man down for the majority of the game, basically deciding the outcome in the process.
Let’s hope we see 15 versus 15 for the remaining games of the competition. But that is wishful thinking.
The reality is more yellows and reds will be given, likely at crucial stages of the contest, and we are left to grit our teeth and hope it is not our team that suffers from these inept laws killing the game we love.