Cape Town - Retired South African referee Jonathan Kaplan has questioned the yellow cards awarded to South Africa's Adriaan Strauss and New Zealand's Dane Coles in international rugby matches at the weekend.
Strauss was sent to the sin-bin by French referee Romain Poite for tackling Ireland fullback Rob Kearney in the air, while Wales' Nigel Owens showed Coles a yellow for lashing out with his foot in his side's clash against England at Twickenham.
Kaplan, commenting via his website, www.ratetheref.co.za, said both yellow cards could have been avoided if the referees had chosen common sense over the letter of the law.
Kaplan wrote: "In the second minute of the Test at
Lansdowne Road Rob Kearney clearly took Willie le Roux out and the sanction was
upgraded from a free kick to a penalty with the player hardly receiving even a
"Then 60 minutes later Kearney was taken out
by Strauss just before he landed in a fairly innocuousway without any malicious
intent. It was almost as if Strauss had tried to put him off catching the ball
and then touched him. That is literally all it is.
"If you are going on the argument that we
need the players to understand what is going to happen to them before they run
onto the field then it must be done across the board and there should be a lot
more yellow cards than they are giving.
"I am not arguing that it should not have
been a penalty, it should have. But certainly if you are refereeing at this
level I would expect that there needs to be more common sense in a game that is
a contact sport. I think netball has more contact in an aerial sense than what
was allowed in that particular case.
"If the referee had used common sense he
could have just as easily have managed that situation by saying that although a
player was taken out in the air in this particular case it falls at the lower
end of the scale and we are going to give a penalty and a caution.
"It would have been in line with what he had
done in the second minute of the game and I cannot agree with the decision
because it is a contact sport and they are over-sanitising that arena because
they happen to be concerned about injuries of players who are exposed in the
air, which is a knee-jerk reaction to something that could just as easily be
managed with the right amount of law application and common sense."
Commenting on the decision to sin-bin Coles, Kaplan wrote:
"At Twickenham Nigel Owens did not deal with
the perpetrator Dylan Hartley who started the whole thing by pulling Coles.
"Coles’ reaction was worse, but for me it
could just as easily have been managed. It was not a yellow card offence and
the guy who started it should have been included in the discussion.
"My feeling was that a penalty should have
gone in favour of England because the reaction of Coles was worse than
Hartley’s, he should not have lashed out, but certainly both should have been
put on notice.
"Even though the reaction is wrong you
cannot ignore the original action, you have got to take both into account.
"In this case it wasn’t that he kicked
somebody, he was frustrated so he lashed out with his foot and happened to make
"Whilst you can argue that Owens was not
wrong in the strictest sense, there are a whole bunch of better outcomes that
could have been obtained through better management of that situation."
French referee Romain Poite sends Adriaan Strauss to the sin-bin... (Getty Images)