Johnny Watterson: Diluting effect of red card punishment would send out wrong message

Johnny Watterson: Diluting effect of red card punishment would send out wrong message

Demanding no less than arterial spray or a lopped off arm in the name of escape or distraction, the film Gladiator shows Maximus, a kind of ancient openside flanker turning to the crowd in the Colosseum after an orgy of high tackles.

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?” he screams. “Is this not why you are here?”

As an astute marketing man and the main lead in the entertainment business of the day, Caesar’s favourite general had quite the canny read on what was trending in ancient Rome. He understood why people came to see him and he tried to give them what they wanted.

This week it emerged World Rugby were considering globally trialing a red card makeover, where players shown it would be replaced by another player after 2src minutes of being a man down. It is already used in Super Rugby Pacific and the Rugby Championship.

Some would argue that the change is likely to make dangerous rugby more permissive; a point of view the governing body would refute.

World Rugby chief executive Alan Glipin explained that although the law change is being trialed, they need to monitor the effects such an adjustment would have before any wholesale introduction.

“We need to see more of the data to see whether that strikes the balance between safety and spectacle,” he said.

It appears the burghers of Pembroke Street in Dublin are not entertained by an unbalanced rugby game, especially if the red card is shown at the beginning of the match as it was at Twickenham in this year’s Six Nations Championship.

The rub is that rugby has always understood the value of a spectacle. Its virtues are good faith, character, pluck, bravery, tenacity, character, mettle, collisions and fearlessness. But malice

…. to be continued
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