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Ronan O’Gara – ‘We could see a red card in every game’

O'Gara

We could see a red card in every game of rugby due to the current way in which the breakdown is refereed, according to Ronan O’Gara.

Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony was sent off for a dangerous clear out in the ruck in the opening 15 minutes against Wales on Sunday, seriously impacting the outcome of the game.

While the incident did warrant a clear red, Tomas Francis was in an unusual position in the ruck, making it difficult for the Ireland flanker to avoid contact with him.

O’Gara was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Mini Rugby Virtual Skills Hub and admitted he was at a loss as how to instruct his own players to approach a ruck.

‘The most important form now is discipline’

“As we’ve seen from the weekend, we’re all talking about form but the most important form now is discipline.

“The ruck is so open to interpretation as the clean out is becoming dangerous. What advice do you give a current back row player about poaching and about clean outs?

“[That is] the massive take away from the weekend for me. Live in action the referee on the pitch says, ‘It’s a clear out. Nothing wrong. Totally unavoidable.’ To being stopped 40 seconds later by his TMO.

O'Mahony

“Then his language changes tune because we’re looking at a still. ‘It’s foul play, it’s from a distance, high speed, hit n the head, not in control, high danger – sanction is a red card.

“I do think he was in control of his body. I didn’t think it was high danger.

“So many times we land on the back of Francis because of the way Johnny [Sexton] cleared him. He went around to have a look and the head pops up. That happens [in an instant]. It’s so hard.

“In my team [Levani] Botia from Fiji who plays seven and 12 locked onto a ball – you have no chance of removing him unless you’re coming from high speed. That’s not going to change.

O'Gara

“The one area that isn’t up for debate is that if it’s a head shot it’s a red and unfortunately Peter caught Francis in the head so we don’t have a discussion today. I’d say now that you could have a red card a game,” O’Gara commented.

‘I don’t think it’s consistent’

One potential solution for lessening the amount of impact a red card on the game would be to allow a replacement to come on for the carded player after 20 minutes.

O’Gara however, believes the ruling around the red card should not be changed but thinks the interpretation of what warrants one should be looked at.

“No we shouldn’t [change the red card]. A red card is a red card. If we dilute that we’re diluting 100 and whatever years of history. A red card is a red card.

“What we need to get right I think is the interpretation of foul play and what the ruck is and what the tackle is and what dangerous clean outs are.

“I don’t think it’s consistent and it’s very difficult to establish guidelines around it. But the one key point that is drilled into anyone playing professional sport in rugby at the top level is that the head is out of bounds.

“Anyone going there [the head] you just know – I’m off,” O’Gara said.

O’Mahony became just the fifth Irish player to be red carded in a test match, with three of those sending offs coming in the last five years.

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