Horror tackle shows rugby union is lightyears ahead of other sports
The Guinness Six Nations waited right up until the final match of the Championship to deliver its most controversial moment, with Freddie Steward’s red card dividing the rugby world.
Whether you fall on the side of red card or not, a player is always going to be in danger whenever contact is made with an opponent’s head. There may have been some mitigation, but Jaco Peyper did not believe there was and so the England fullback was sent off.
Though there have been critics of this increasing zero tolerance approach to contact with the head, a brief glimpse at some other sports suggests rugby union might be on the right track.
Take a recent game in the AFL for example, where Melbourne took on the Western Bulldogs. There was a tackle in that match which would be an instant red card in rugby union with no need at all for a TMO referral, and for good reason. The Bulldogs’ Bailey Smith was the recipient of the tackle from Melbourne’s Kysaiah Pickett and it ticked about every box for what is a red card in rugby. Late? Yes. High? Yes. No arms? Yes. High degree of danger? Absolutely.
The crazy thing is, the tackler was allowed to play on. He was put on report, meaning he could face a ban over the coming days, but it is a very long time, if ever, since a player could get away with something like that in rugby union.
Of course this is a different sport, but it is hard to look at the Steward incident and the tackle in the AFL, and then look at the way they were both handled in the match, and argue that rugby union is not doing the right thing currently.
Take a look at the tackle and decide for yourself:
How us Bailey Smith not out like a light right now 💀 Picket FLEW into him what the fuck pic.twitter.com/hJMQYlDfIy
— McJudicator ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@McJudicator) March 18, 2023