We explain what has become one of the most common terms in rugby – the sin-bin

If you’ve ever asked what is the sin-bin in rugby, in essence it’s rugby’s naughty step. There is normally a seat somewhere between where the two teams’ pitch-side staff and replacements are stationed during play for a yellow-carded player to take a ten-minute rest. After ten minutes, a sin-binned player can return to play.

Two yellow cards, even if they are for relatively minor offences like a deliberate knock-on, trigger an automatic red. This happened to Jonny May playing for Leicester against Saracens in December 2017 and although it seemed harsh at the time the wing was not suspended.

If a player gets three yellow cards for foul play in a season then he or she is hauled in front of a disciplinary panel.

Often you will see a team warned for persistent foul play, such as killing the ball when they are under the cosh in defence, and the next offender ‘takes one for the team’ and is binned.

What is the sin-bin?

Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back were both given ten minutes for this in England’s 15-13 win over New Zealand in 2003 in Wellington, leaving their team down to 13 men but they hung on.

When yellow cards first came in, they did not carry the ten minutes in the bin penalty. Ben Clarke, the former back-rower, was the first player to be shown one in an International when referee Patrick Thomas did the honours in England’s 20-8 win over Ireland in Dublin in 1995.

But Clarke did not leave the field after being found guilty of stamping on Simon Geoghegan, the Ireland wing and a Bath team-mate. In those days, yellow cards were just a warning.

Australian centre James Holbeck was the first player to get his ten-minute marching orders for a yellow card in the 1997 Tri-Nations match against South Africa in Pretoria.

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