Rugby World Cup 2023 news

Former Wallabies international Stephen Hoiles worries teams will change the way they play for fear of putting themselves in precarious situations where they could be carded.

It comes after a flurry of incidents on the opening weekend of this year’s Rugby World Cup that drew conjecture from all corners of the sport.

The most high-profile clash involved England’s Tom Curry, who received a yellow card for head-to-head contact with Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia that was upgraded to red.

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Curry will face a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday where he could receive a match ban.

There were three other incidents across the weekend which drew mixed results and reaction.

Chile captain Martin Sigren was given a yellow card for a hit on Kotaro Matsushima of Japan in a head clash that appeared almost identical to that of the Curry/Cruz Malia incident.

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Then, two incidents that could arguably warrant review under World Rugby’s rules went unchecked.

Wales captain Dan Biggar made an upright tackle on Fiji’s Semi Radradra, appearing to make head-to-head contact.

England star cops red card

Earlier in the day, South Africa’s Jesse Kriel clashed heads with Jack Dempsey of Scotland.

The Biggar and Kriel incidents went uncited by World Rugby and it’s expected they will not be reviewed.

Speaking on Stan Sport’s RWC Central, Hoiles said the inconsistency of referees and officiating will be of concern.

“That’s a harsh call and I can understand the safety of the player is paramount, as much as that’s a harsh call, there are other ones on the weekend that were very, very similar that only remained yellow cards – so that’s probably the big talking point out of it,” said Hoiles.

“This is a similar incident,” he said of the Sigren hit in comparison to Curry’s. 

All Blacks ace cops card

“This started with the yellow card. This was almost identical in my opinion. It’s head-on-head. The responsibility is on the tackler to dip. I just don’t see a huge difference. I don’t see how this one stays as yellow and Tom Curry’s evolved into a red card. 

“That’s for the powers to be to discuss. This just shows, if anything, it probably scares a few teams with the aerial work and how you compete in the air and the head-on-head. It’s going to be heavily scrutinised in this World Cup.

“We just don’t want to see teams playing with 14 men when we can avoid it. We’ve got to be paramount to the safety of the player but we just want consistency.”

Head clash goes unnoticed by match officials

South African head coach Rassie Erasmus said he was “really comfortable” after the Kriel incident.

“There hasn’t been a citing (and) I’m pretty sure there won’t be a citing,” he said.

“If it isn’t direct head contact – and it wasn’t, it was tackled on the ball and then he moved up after tackling on the ball. I’ve seen a few stills where people just (show) after direct contact to the ball.

“If you took it a millisecond or a second or two back, you’ll see that he clearly tackled on the ball. So we’re very happy with how it was refereed.

“Obviously there’s some time to do citings still but I’ll be very surprised for the indirect contact – with first contact on the ball – that there will be anything from that.”


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