Given the amount of concern that currently exists over concussion in rugby, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise to see World Rugby introduce new laws in an effort to minimise the risks faced by players.
However, the game’s governing body has been criticised in some quarters for restricting aerial duels and forcing referees to base their decision on the outcome of challenges rather than intent shown.
The incident involving Bristol’s Tusi Pisi and Worcester’s Jamie Shillcock being the latest example of where the referee was forced to send off the later due to the outcome of the challenge.
Tusi Pisi gets a red for taking out Jamie Shillcock in the air. No intent. Is this a red card challenge?
?Big Hits Rugby pic.twitter.com/5BJJXddC3Z
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) December 27, 2016
While Pisi should have at least had a quick glance to see where Shillcock was, the Bristol player showed little intent as followed the flight of the ball.
Under World Rugby’s latest directives, Wayne Barnes was left with little option but to send Pisi off, creating a great deal of debate among fans and commentators.
The new directives mean that any contact with an opponents head or face could result in at least a penalty. Something Delon Armitage learned during Lyon’s encounter with Bordeaux Begles in the Top 14 on January 30.
The former England winger was sent to the sin bin after appearing to hand off Bordeaux’s Baptiste Serin. However upon closer inspection, both the TMO and referee agreed that Armitage led with his elbow.
While Armitage’s attempted hand off may have been a little clumsy in that his arm was not straight and his hand didn’t impact upon Serin’s chest, once again there was very little intent shown by the 33 year-old.
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) January 1, 2017
We review the festive fixtures and look back on 2016 – The Year That Was