Ackermann reacts to Kwagga red card
Lloyd Burnard - Ellis Park
Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann has re-iterated his stance that red cards for accidental infringements should potentially be scrapped from rugby.
Ackermann saw his side go down 25-17 to the Crusaders in Saturday's Super Rugby final at Ellis Park after loose forward Kwagga Smith was shown a straight red card towards the end of the first half.
Chasing an up-and-under at serious pace, Smith went clattering into David Havili after the Crusaders fullback had jumped skywards to catch the ball.
Havili was toppled over, landing on his neck, and after looking at the television replays referee Jaco Peyper decided that Smith should be sent off.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson acknowledged afterwards that the red card shaped the outcome of the game - and Ackermann agreed.
The Lions coach had first called for a rethink on red cards earlier in the season when hooker Robbie Coetzee was sent off in a match against the Kings for kneeing a player in the head.
The Lions won that match 54-10 so the sending off didn't have an impact, but the incident on Saturday came on the biggest stage.
"I made a point when Robbie Coetzee got a red card, how I feel about red cards," Ackermann said after the match.
"I don't think 62 000 people paid to see a 15 versus 14 game.
"The player can get disciplined afterwards, and I'll stand by that, especially if it's not out of the law in the sense that it's a kick to the face or a punch or dirty play.
"I can't say too much ... I have to respect what the officials say. One must take into account that if a player jumps in the air going forward, where does he go if somebody touches his legs.
"I suppose the New Zealand people are happy now that Jaco is a good ref, because last week he wasn't a good ref."
Ackermann added that nobody in the Lions side blamed Smith for the incident, and that his contribution to the team this season was far more important than one moment.
"I think Rudolf Straeuli summed it up. He's a great person. When he was man of the match four times, everybody loved him," said Ackermann.
"It's an interpretation about physics and a law. That's my problem; a law will say one thing but common says says other things.
"He's a great player and he's been tremendous for us through the whole season. We can't judge him by one incident and we still respect and love him."
Ackermann will be leaving for Gloucester on Friday, and he is set to start work at his new club on Thursday.