In rugby, the red card needs to penalise the perpetrator, not the teams, coaches, spectators, and TV viewers.

A good example of it punishing the wrong people, was in the last British & Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand. Because of a red card, the All Blacks played with 14 men for 60 minutes and lost their first game in a very long time to the visitors.

Even more recently, the South African Lions Super Team played the final at home in rarified air for 40 minutes with 14 players, and inevitably lost. In the second half, their home-ground and altitude advantage completely neutralised by the red card.

This rule needs to change.

A red card should penalise the team for 10 minutes, and the player, in his pocket. It should not destroy the equality of the contest. For serious infringements, I believe the player should be sent off; but should be allowed to be substituted after 10 minutes).

However the Crusaders deserved to win the Super Rugby title. They proved that to win the world's best league requires a complete package: a happy united culture, a good attack, a good defence and good game management. Last Saturday evening, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, all these attributes were on display from both teams. We clearly had two worthy finalists.

The bench in this game provided relief from fatigue more than impact. But the big difference between the two teams was game management. The Crusaders had a plan; they understood it well, and they executed.

This was a great final because it had everything including a number of turning points. Three lineouts against the throw and one huge scrum at crucial times against the flow were deciding factors for the Crusaders. But the red card was a major influence and to their credit, the Lions mitigated well, despite losing a player for half the game.

  • Murray Mexted, IRANZ Managing Director

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