Rules rethink for rugby

France's Remy Grosso (in blue) is tackled by New Zealand's Jordie Barrett during the second rugby Test between New Zealand and France at Westpac Stadium in Wellington yesterday. New Zealand won 26-13.
France's Remy Grosso (in blue) is tackled by New Zealand's Jordie Barrett during the second rugby Test between New Zealand and France at Westpac Stadium in Wellington yesterday. New Zealand won 26-13.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

All Blacks coach Hansen calls for a report system like rugby league's, instead of red cards

WELLINGTON • All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has suggested World Rugby should consider introducing a disciplinary report system like rugby league's rather than issuing red cards, after his side beat 14-man France 26-13 in Wellington yesterday.

France fullback Ben Fall was sent off in the 12th minute of the second Test for a collision with Beauden Barrett in the air that ended with the All Blacks flyhalf landing on his head.

Referee Angus Gardner consulted television official George Ayoub before he made his decision and said the rules left him with "no choice" but to send Fall from the field.

"It's disappointing they lost a player," Hansen said after the match. "I know it's tough and they have to look after players, but somehow I think that we need to look at something where that can go on report."

Rugby league's report system involves a referee making a judgement that an incident needed further investigation by a disciplinary panel. The player involved is rarely sent from the field at the time.

Hansen thought the decision to send off Fall had been harsh.

"He didn't do it intentionally, didn't aim to do anything to Beaudie," Hansen said.

"It's just one of those things we have to look at to make sure it doesn't make it a one-sided Test."

While the All Blacks would typically run riot against a 14-man opposition, they struggled to get anything right in the face of a resilient French side, who were considered unlucky last week to have lock Paul Gabrillagues dubiously sinbinned.

The yellow card last week opened the floodgates for the All Blacks, who ran away with the game 52-11.

The world champions, however, were poor in individual execution and sloppy in their team work with passes going astray, turnovers being conceded, first-up tacklers being brushed aside and generally lacking discipline.

They conceded 13 penalties, the same as France, but the majority of those were in succession while desperately defending their own territory.

Gardner also warned All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock he would yellow card the next offender, which happened to be replacement scrumhalf TJ Perenara.

"If you're not quite right you get frustrated then you run around and do things that you wouldn't normally," Hansen said of his team's disciplinary issues, despite winning the three-match series with a game to spare.

"It was a classic case of guys didn't back up from last week ... and were a bit off the pace.

"We, as a team, were off the pace ... the biggest positive is that we got more points on the board.

"And you're better to win ugly than you are to lose pretty."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 17, 2018, with the headline 'Rules rethink for rugby'. Print Edition | Subscribe