Last weekend, I tuned into the Six Nations clash between Scotland and France just in time to see the scuffle.
In the ensuing moments, Mohamed Haouas was sent off for punching Jamie Ritchie, followed by another penalty.
Up to that stage it had been a balanced and mouthwatering spectacle. Within five minutes of madness, though, the game had been turned on its head and Scotland went into the halftime break with a seven-point lead – deservedly so, I might add.
That sentiment only lasted for about five minutes into the second half, knowing it would take a miracle for France to get back into the game – and they did try their level best to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive.
As a neutral fan, I thought I’d be supporting the Scots, but I ended up hoping the French – who came very close on a couple of occasions – would get a try to make a game of it.
It wasn’t the exciting game it had promised to be right up to that moment of madness though.
From the moment the referee brandished the red card, it overshadowed everything that happened in the game. Even the Scottish victory, in the end, felt empty.
I am sure Scottish supporters and French haters would disagree, but no true rugby fan could have avoided feeling a little shortchanged.
I agree with the red-card rule, but only up to a point – and that point is usually reached about ten minutes after the card has been shown.
Instead of punishing a team by letting them play out the remainder of the game minus a player, why not send on a replacement player after ten minutes of play?
This would be more than enough punishment to play ten minutes with one player less than the opposition and then to be only allowed to replace the original offender, who would not be allowed to take any further part in the game.
Red-carded players would still receive the treatment they deserve, but the game itself would remain a contest.
We would still enjoy a fair contest while getting rid of the major offenders, instead of spoiling the whole game because in a moment of madness or cynicism one player lost their head.
When all is said and done, I hope the French player gets punished properly. He is part of a minority who still have to learn to refrain from throwing punches.
I also wish there could be a more measured approach to red cards, so that the majority can still enjoy the game.