John Dobson. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

“We have a problem in rugby”: plenty of red cards in the Champions Cup, but no easy answers | sport

John Dobson. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

  • Stormers coach John Dobson has admitted rugby has “a problem” with “complex” safety laws which have led to a slew of red cards.
  • The Champions Cup has seen no less than five red cards linked to head contact in one weekend.
  • The Stormers beat London Irish 28-12 in west London in a game that saw two red cards for the hosts.

Stormers head coach John Dobson has admitted rugby has “a problem” navigating safety laws, which has led to a slew of red cards each week, despite his side having beat a 13-man London Irish in the Champions Cup on Sunday.

The Irish had two players sent off after their full-back Ben Loader collided head-on with Stormers pivot Manie Libbok 17 minutes later and substitute prop Ciaran Parker was sent off early in the second half for a dangerous clean up on the poacher Deon Fourie.

Libbok has been ruled out for at least a week due to a failed head injury assessment after the hit, with the full extent of his layoff to be determined by further concussion protocols.

READ | Nel plays as Stormers sweep Irish 13 from London after two red cards

The two sending offs, plus two yellow cards for each team, contributed significantly to a promising contest disintegrating into a shitty display which the Stormers won 28-14 at Brentford Community Stadium.

“I would differentiate the Ben Loader thing, which happens at high speed, from [Parker’s]where Deon Fourie was hit,” Dobson said after the game.

“We can control that to a greater extent than the Loader head-shock situation. But we have a problem in rugby.

“It was a stunning game until the numbers went down. I felt like we got poorer and the Irish played the only way they could, which was to dominate possession.”

The Champions Cup has seen no less than five red cards linked to head contact, with Cobus Wiese (Sale Sharks), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) and Jack O’Donoghue (Munster) being sent off in other matches.

Often this leads to an uneven contest, with the whole structure going out the window and the show being reduced to a free game for all.

So what is the solution ?

“It’s tricky for me. It’s such a complex issue that dominates the game,” Dobson said.

“I’m convinced that the ‘jackalers’ who are vying for the ball need to be protected from header shoulders and that sort of thing.

“It’s definitely controllable. But we have a grayer area in what we call ‘traditional’ rugby collisions.

“But it’s something that we as a game need to improve. I know from the limited level I’ve played that when you go for a cleanup you can control that a lot easier than a clash. high-speed heads.

“I respect, understand and agree with red cards, period. But this rugby collision story is a tricky area.”

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