The hooker is red-carded for a dangerous tackle on Dan Sheehan
Epalahame Faiva sent off against Ireland
Epalahame Faiva was sent off just 19 minutes into Italy’s Six Nations match against Ireland in Dublin.
The Italy hooker had replaced Gianmarco Lucceshi in the ninth minute after the starting No 2 suffered an arm injury and ten minutes later he was leaving the field after being red-carded for a dangerous tackle.
The tackle in question was on Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan and Faiva was adjudged by referee Nika Amashukeli, the first Georgian to take charge of a championship match, to have made contact with Sheehan’s chin with his shoulder. With no obvious mitigation and a “high degree of danger”, according to Amashukeli, it was a red card.
To make matters worse for Italy, they had no front-rower left capable of playing hooker following the early injury to Lucceshi and moving to uncontested scrums because of a red card meant they had to go down to 13 players for the remaining hour of the game and bring on another front-rower.
Wing Pierre Bruno and No 8 Toa Halafihi were the two players sacrificed with Ivan Nemer coming on, and Italy had to commit eight players to each scrum for the rest of the game so had only five players in the back-line from that set-piece.
This graphic shows the World Rugby ruling on whether teams have to lose an additional player when going to uncontested scrums, with the aim to avoid teams manipulating the laws to gain an advantage.
The Secret Referee, the former elite official who writes for Rugby World, says: “The referee was 100% correct. Uncontested scrums aren’t seen as disadvantage enough for a yellow or red card, so losing an extra player is World Rugby’s answer. Faiva’s infringement was also a clear red card.”
The additional punishment of Italy having to go down to 13 men sparked plenty of contrasting opinions on social media.
Ireland were leading 7-3 when Faiva was sent off and they were quick to take advantage of the numerical advantage that followed.
Joey Carbery had scored the first try in the fourth minute after an initial break from Caelan Doris.
A long-range kick from Edoardo Padovani from halfway got points on the board for the Azzurri but shortly after came the red card and Ireland had run in three more tries by half-time.
Jamison Gibson-Park got the first and Michael Lowry marked his Test debut by crossing on the half-hour mark.
Captain Peter O’Mahony wrapped up the bonus point just before half-time before Paolo Garbisi slotted a penalty for Italy in the 40th minute.
The Azzurri showed a lot of pride and determination during the match, even when being further reduced to 12 players for the final five minutes following a yellow card for Abraham Steyn, but Ireland ultimately ran in five more tries in the second half to win 57-6.
Related: Ireland thump 13-man Italy
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