They had the trial last year, and this is in use in Super Rugby

SANZAAR retain 20-minute red card for the Rugby Championship

It’s here to stay, at least for now. SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) have decreed that the 20-minute red card law trial will be retained for the 2022 Rugby Championship, which begins 6 August.

The law means that when a player who receives a red card they can then be replaced by another player after 20 minutes. In many cases this would mean evening up the number of players on the field again.

We had seen the law trial in place for last year’s edition of the Rugby Championship, as well as the last three seasons of Super Rugby competition (in its various guises).

The decision has met with varied views – often down to which hemisphere people are in.

Progressive Rugby, the brain injury campaign group, called it a “staggeringly bad look from SANZAAR in light of recent litigation.

“Firmly prioritises spectacle over player welfare.

“Two fingers up at World Rugby.

“Removes incentive to address behaviours and tackle technique. Deeply disappointing.”

With the recent rate of cards being shown since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, some vocal critics in nations like Australia and New Zealand in particular have bristled at perceived over-officiousness – particularly for cardings over what they would deem accidental contact with the head or ‘rugby incidents’. However, other voices point to the fact that victims of head contact (accidental or otherwise) can have no option to return to the game and that there must be permanent repercussions for dangerous or foul play. For example, when Angus Angus Ta’avao saw red earlier this month, the player he collided with, Garry Ringrose was permanently removed from the game due to brain injury.

SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris has said of the decision: “This is a great decision for The Rugby Championship and follows on from its application in Super Rugby. All the SANZAAR national unions – Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – are fully behind the extension of the red-card law trial.

“As a group we firmly believe the integrity of international matches is very important and that wherever possible matches must be a contest of fifteen versus fifteen.

“Within the context of the games’ laws, SANZAAR believes that a 20-minute red card allows for a significant deterrent to deliberate acts of foul play, while it also protects the contest of fifteen on fifteen, which is what our unions, broadcasters and fans are telling us is important.

“SANZAAR stands alongside World Rugby’s important work on managing foul play and player welfare and will conduct a formal research project across the 2022 TRC period with all comparative findings to be shared with World Rugby at the end of the season.

“The aim is to gather the necessary information that allows the 20-minute red card trial to be accepted into the full laws of the game in the future.”

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