Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Application of rules isn’t tackling the real issues

The spear, or tip tackle, is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Once again, it is clear that the law, as it presently stands, is unfit for purpose, simply because it should not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ law.

After the World Cup I argued vehemently that Alain Rolland’s decision was the wrong one. For the sticklers and ‘Jobsworths’ out there, yes, by the letter of the law he was right, but from a rugby sense it didn’t feel like a red card. Why? Because Sam Warburton knew he had got it wrong and pulled out of the tackle — he may not have brought Vincent Clerc to ground and it was dangerous, but he didn’t drive him downwards.

Did Stephen Ferris help Ian Evans to the ground? No, he didn’t. Here we are, being all high and mighty, arguing that Ferris’ tackle lacked intent to do harm and should have been a penalty instead.

We must be suffering from goldfish bowl memories. Intent has nothing to do with the adjudication of the offence on the pitch. In fact, if we apply the law as Roland applied it, both Bradley Davies and Stephen Ferris could and should have received red cards.

Clearly the law is insufficient and needs changing. We had clear evidence, once again, that the convention of dealing with these tackles is with a yellow card.

This is why the red card at the World Cup was such a shock. For what it is worth, I believe there is a big difference between a spear tackle and a tip tackle and refereeing decisions should reflect this. Using newly amended laws and common sense I would have given Warburton a yellow, sent Davies off, and awarded a penalty against Ferris — I think few would argue against that. Instead the situation is farcical.

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