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Eddie O’Sullivan has suggested that rugby copies the GAA and introduces a black card to the game, to reduce the amount of red cards.

It’s no secret that there has been an increase in red cards given out in rugby in recent years, as the sport attempts to reduce the amount of concussions by clamping down on high tackles.

High tackles worthy of red cards are still quite a common occurrence in the game however, and can result in teams playing almost an entire match with 14 players, as seen in Ireland’s recent win against England and Connacht’s one-sided loss to Leinster.

Former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan was speaking on RTE’s Rugby podcast and called on the sport to follow the GAA’s lead in introducing a black card, which allows carded players to be replaced after 20 minutes.

Eddie O’Sullivan on introducing a black card to rugby.

“I actually think the solution here is available if they’d only just open their eyes. I think they should look at the GAA for this and I think the black card, to me, is the solution to this,” O’Sullivan said.

“The way I would adjudicate on it is that in the old days the red card was for somebody doing something really egregious; like punching somebody or kicking somebody or taking somebody out with an elbow. There should be a red card for that.

“So if someone does something that’s dangerous in the game, reckless, crazy – red card, end of story, play with 14 men. There’s so little of that now, it doesn’t really happen. Professionals respect each other, players respect each other.

“They don’t go out to hurt each other, that’s gone out of the game. But the next thing, I believe, is a black card, which the GAA have. It’s very simple.

“If you have a high challenge and a player gets head to head contact and it’s an accident or it’s not terribly egregious, you give a black card. That should be maybe 20 minutes and then replace the player.”

The Southern Hemisphere already uses a ’20-minute red card’.

The black card solution that O’Sullivan is suggesting is similar to what is already used in Super Rugby Pacific and the Rugby Championship, where a red carded player can be replaced after 20 minutes.

The only difference between what is used in the Southern Hemisphere and what the former Ireland head coach is suggesting is that there is no card which can reduce a team to 14 players on a permanent basis in the game.

O’Sullivan’s suggestion, which has been called an ‘orange card’ by some, has been backed by former referee Nigel Owens, although its is not currently in use in any major competition.

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