Three Becomes One

Gerry was predicting all three Irish provinces were going to progress this weekend, but in a potentially important weekend looking forward to the RCC, it’s moneybags Globo Gym and Toulon who join Munster and Clermont in the semi-finals – the same lineup as last year, and a real credit to Rob Penney to keeping Munster in such august (and far wealthier) company.

If Toulon beat Leinster in an awesome display of power, skill and depth; Saracens were blessed to defeat Ulster on Saturday night, almost letting a 76 minute man advantage slip.

The biggest pity about Jared Payne’s sending off on Saturday night was that it effectively decided what looked like a delicious contest after just four minutes – Saracens’ ineptitude on the game management and place-kicking front allowed Ulster to hang in there, and almost nick it, but it was a nigh-impossible task to win with 14 men for virtually the entire game. Add in injuries for Besty and Pienaar and it’s a minor miracle Ulster were even in search of a drop goal in the closing phases. For that they have to thank an oddly subdued Sarries – Owen Farrell again got the yips when the pressure was on (see Park, Thomond, tearful Saturday night edition, 2012), they seemed content to let Ulster have the ball despite the excellent ball retention on display, and the few times they used the full spaces on offer they scored tries – and the errant boots of their halfbacks.

Billy Vunipola and Schalk Brits were excellent and carried the team, but Farrell and Hodgson offered very little. We won’t talk about Chris Ashton again, but his bird-brained swan dive made Farrell’s first conversion more difficult than it needed to be – it would have been just reward if that proved the difference between winning and losing, but, sadly, the width of a post on Wee PJ’s first penalty determined that one.

Ulster’s remaining 14 men and substitutes were heroic (and arm-wavingly frustrating in one case – no wonder Pienaar remained on the pitch for so long despite an inability to pass the ball) and couldn’t have done much more, but since Payne’s card was the defining moment it is worth dwelling on it for some time. As per usual, the reaction ranged from the moronic (‘Sure Goode was walking around by half-time, clearly wasn’t badly injured, not even a penalty’) to the opportunistic (‘Sure the game had barely started and he didn’t intend Goode to fall on his head, so it’s a penalty and no more’) to the disciplinarian (‘All tackles on English yeoman should be punished by red – why, back in the day these colonials weren’t even allowed to pass a gentleman on the street without a cap-doff’). But it’s worth diving deeper into a few of the more common lines:

  • Both Ulster and Saracens coach and captain agreed it wasn’t a red. Well, Anscombe and Muller would say that wouldn’t they, so let’s leave it there. McCall agreed, but would he have been so magnanimous if Ulster had won? Or if Payne got a yellow and scored the winning try, would he have argued Garces was right? And Borthwick chided the interviewer for not asking if Goode was ok, and more or less said Garces had the right to make that decision.
  • Payne had his eyes on the ball the whole time. This was Muller’s argument to Garces when the incident happened, and it’s undeniable. But does this invalidate any contact? The reality is that Payne made no effort to contest the ball, which is the key point when discussing recklessness – even the lamest attempt to jump would likely have downgraded the dangerous factor in the referee’s eyes. Even if Payne was looking at the ball, he was utterly reckless when it came to the safety of Goode.  His body shape in enetering the contact zone was all wrong, and that was what put Goode at such great risk.
  • The severity of Goode’s injury influenced the decision. We thought this initially, but we aren’t so sure. Sure, the sight of a man being carried off on a stretcher definitely makes the referee feel under more pressure to do something, but think about this scenario. Goode is dazed but sitting up and needed treatment to continue. Garces shows Payne a yellow straight away, then sees the replay on the big screen and summons him back for a red. Far fetched? Not really, it’s exactly what he did to Stuart Hogg in the Six Nations. We’re not saying it would have happened, but it’s definitely a possibility. Garces is a referee who does not shirk these decisions, and he could well have shown a red anyway.  At the very least, it must be accepted that Garces’ decision was based on due consideration, and not a snap-reaction or emotion, because he and the officials took an age over it.
  • There was no intent to injure. There never is, though, is there? He’s not that kind of player, you hear commentators say (except about Dylan Hartley, because he clearly is). But reckless and dangerous play can lead to injuries, and that’s what needs to be stamped out. Player safety needs to be paramount, and outright intention to injure someone (also known as common assault) is rarely the key factor in these decision, nor should it be.  Payne was reckless and dangerous

We saw the same thing after Sam Warburton dumped Vinny Clark on his head in the World Cup – amid the hot air eminating from Gatty and the compliant UK press, Elaine was accused of being “half-French” by Barnesy, and Frankie accused him of ruining the semi-final for the fans. Warbs didn’t intend to paralyse Clerc, nor did he, but his conduct is the type of dangerous play that can leave players in wheelchairs, and for that Rolland sent him off.

The Sky studio were split down the middle, with Quinnell and Greenwood arguing for red and the Irish pair going yellow – and that 50-50 split is about fair. Some referees would show red, some yellow. Garces tends to be strict and he showed red. Even if you think it should have been a yellow card, the red card outcome was definitely in play, and within reason.  We tend to see player safety as the key variable and think, on balance, a red card was just about the right call. When we first saw it, our thoughts were ‘He might just get sent off here’.  Payne will be the most devastated by the turn of events – he effectively cost his team a place in the semi-finals – and one wonders if Ulster were a little too wound up early on. It’s a terrible pity that a team of such potential, full of young Irishmen, won’t get to play for a chance of another final – their display certainly warranted it, and, given a period of transition is on its way with the departure of Court, Afoa and Muller, who knows when they will have as good an opportunity.

When you are climbing a mountain of the type Ulster needed to on Saturday everything must go right, and if Ulster put themselves in a position to win the game, they will regret four missed kicks. When we saw Pienaar, broken wing and all, lining up the first kick at goal, we were screaming at the TV – it was pretty obvious he wasn’ t lasting the 80, so why not give PJ the duties from the start? Pienaar didn’t kick well, and Jackson was left with a sighter in the second half – which hit the post. Them is the margins. Not much went right for Ulster on the night, and Payne’s stupidity was only one part of it. Some day my friends .. some day.

PS. Worry not, Munster fans, we’ll be talking about your team’s awesomeness next.  And sorry, Leinster fans, but we may have to have a chat about events on the south coast of France later in the week, too.

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90 Comments

  1. @Completebore

     /  April 7, 2014

    Heart-sick fromt he whole thing. I cannot put my bias aside and admit to myself that it might have been a red (although it was there to be given). Garces is a brave ref (and had a alright game after that if a little loose on the ruck entry for my taste) but I worry he refs context and injury a bit too much.

    Sarries inepitude almost made it feel worse. If they’d done the professional thing and put the game to bed by half-time it wouldn’t hurt so much and I could have started drinking heavily. But they were just brainless pretty much all round.

  2. I was in the crowd for the game and have to agree on the red – I don’t know why Payne didn’t at least try to jump for it. He clearly hadn’t clicked into mental gear at that stage, given that he’d already kicked out on the full. Given that we were playing with 13-and-a-half men for the first half (Pienaar’s inability to tackle contributed to Ashton’s first try), it was a massive effort by Ulster to stay in the game. Unfortunately, a moral victory is no kind of victory at all.

    The crowd was amazing for the full 80 minutes, I have to say. I’ve heard a few comments about booing, but only one of Farrell’s kicks was seriously booed, and that was just after Marshall had been hauled down with the line in sight, which could have been a card in itself had there not been a knock on beforehand. So, not polite but understandable given the frustration levels at the time.

    • Exile

       /  April 7, 2014

      In my opinion, the behaviour of the Ravenhill crowd is becoming more and more distasteful. They’re clearly a passionate bunch and the noise that they can generate is awesome.

      While I don’t like the booing, it’s not the worst part of the atmosphere. What particularly upsets me is the chant of “cheat cheat”. This seemed to greet every Saracens score after the 4th minute.

      It’s ok to support your team vociferously. It’s ok to roar in glee when Farrell missed another kickable penalty. That, to my mind, is part and parcel of sport. But rugby has a well known “code of conduct”. Respect the kickers, so don’t boo them while they’re lining up a kick. And to question a referee’s integrity with chants of “cheat cheat” is clearly against the spirit of the game and surely counter productive?

      • Agree on the “cheat” chants, distasteful. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much that could be done about it, other than adding more “please remember the proud tradition….” calls, which get ignored anyway if something particularly “outrageous” happens.

        • I know this might not be a very popular comment and I interact with plenty of great Ulster supporters both here and on Twitter but I’ve had some serious issues with Ulster fans at various games. I’ve never been so mortified in my life at a rugby game than at the Ulster Edinburgh 2012 semi final. I’m a Munster fan and I went with a Leinster fan fully intending to support Ulster but there was an element that it was a bit of a day out for us both as it’s less stressful than watching your own team!

          I’m all in favour of passionate support but a line was definitely crossed with the abuse being dished out to the opposition and the ref. I know the big occasions can bring out the more casual fan an exacerbate the issue but by the time Laidlaw was converting Edinburgh’s last minute try, a score that could make no difference whatsoever to the result and every Ulster fan around me was on their feet screaming abuse at him I nearly walked out, which would be the first time I’ve left a match early. There was no sportsmanship on display whatsoever.

          In general I really hate the rampant booing that seems to happen so frequently in Ravenhill and when supporters travel. I have repeatedly found some Ulster fans cross into being pretty aggressive, particularly as travelling support. Again, I scream and shout with the best of them and I want my team to win but there is a line and I’ve never seen it crossed as much with any other team.

          So am I completely out of order here? I’m just talking from my own personal experience so maybe other people feel differently? Is it just an element within the wider supporters? Again, not my intention to have a go, I very much admire what Ulster have achieved as a team and a club but for me, this has a negative effect

          • Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

             /  April 7, 2014

            I agree on a lot of points here Kate. I was at the aviva and just could not get my head around the booing of Laidlaw.

          • Rava

             /  April 7, 2014

            You most certainly aren’t out of order Kate. I’ve had Munster and Leinster mates visit Ravenhill with me and at times have cringed at some of the “antics” of our supporters.

          • @Completebore

             /  April 7, 2014

            Yeah, there’s some elements of the crowd that cross quite a few lines quite regularly. There’s a few things feeding into it in my opinion, most to do with some people being arses, but there does seem to be a notion on the terraces in Ravenhill that refs can be swayed by abuse. Not sure its ever actually worked. There are also elements of the crowd that are so one-eyed that the ref is wrong on every penalty given against Ulster regardless of reality. Unfortunately, the eye-rolling and tutting by most people doesn’t carry the same volume as drunken screaming. I’m thinking of moving my season ticket in the ground because where I usually stand is getting a bit too shouty.

          • Yeah, I’ve never been to Ravenhill and would love to go, particularly as the new development looks so great but I do find the boo-ing of pretty much anything a bit off putting.

            In general I’m glad I’m not alone in the above and I’m sure it must be really frustrating for Ulster supporters to have an element that’s letting the side down a bit and negatively affecting your own match experience

          • You’re definitely not out of order, and I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience with Ulster fans. I don’t boo kickers and I don’t like others doing it in any circumstances, though I’m less bothered with shouting in the heat of the moment. Some of the things that I yell out of frustration would definitely be inappropriate if they weren’t drowned out by the rest of the crowd (I shouted myself hoarse on Saturday, though the huge majority of it was cheering on Ulster rather than howling at Saracens – the only time I shouted at the ref was for the deliberate knock-on penalty as it was too far away for me to see what had happened). I don’t find the Ravenhill terraces any more unfriendly than those at the RDS, isolated idiots aside, and I hope you take the chance to make the comparison yourself some day.

      • Tiny9

         /  April 7, 2014

        I tend to sgree with Cerandor. I’m an Ulster season ticket holder on the East Terrace. I have had the opportunity to travel to many other grounds and find that the percentage of shouty idiots is about average with most grounds. That does not in any way make excuses for their behaviour of course. At Thomond Park two years ago at the 1/4 final stage we found the behaviour of @ a dozen Munster fans near us deplorable. At the final at twickenham the same year two of our group were surrounded by chanting Leinster fans who poured beer over them. However, it did not take away from either occasion and I would happily support either team and recommend attending their games.
        On Saturday at the ground i found the jeering of a kicker disgraceful. I did however find some irony in the PA announcer informing people of the tradition of repecting kickers. If you give out 3000 corporate tickets…you’re not going to get rugby fans!!! This was due to the fact that the ticket allocation for this game was amateurish at best. Season ticket holders were only given a single ticket.
        This however, is the sporting world we now live in. It is a case of trying to strike a balance between the team on the pitch and the honesty of the crowd. I can’t help but feeling though that the money men will always win.

        P.S There is a citing commissioner to deal with events on the pitch if the ref does not take harsh enough action against a player. Jared Payne should not have been red carded as at no point did he INTENTIONALLY put the welfare of another player in jeopardy. A yellow was in line with the rules. The ref was influenced by the result of the incident as oppossed to the cause.

  3. Patrick O'Riordan

     /  April 7, 2014

    My guess is that Garces was applying the tip-tackle instructions in this case – if the player lands on their shoulder, neck or head, then it is a red.

    The “no intent” point used by some is a total red herring. The laws are pretty clear what laws rely upon intent and what laws don’t (a clue is the laws relying upon intent use the word “intent” in them…) and in this context, the dangerous play laws don’t require the referee to be a mind reader and judge intent, but just the facts of what happened and the result.

    Still, from an Ulster fan perspective, it was a gut wrenching defeat and I wonder if the team can pick themselves up for the Pro12 campaign.

    Yes, Ulster are losing some experienced campaigners next year, but if you look at Munster and Leinster’s European journeys, Munster took 6 years of being nearly men, Leinster even longer. I’m discounting Ulster’s 1999 win as that was from a different era, but I think there is still something in this team.

    • Actually Patrick all Law application is defined by intent whether referenced or not. The punishment for Paynes actions “by Law 10.4” is a penalty, everything after that requires subjective interpretation by the referee of the level of intent or recklessness…..

      For either Payne would have to be aware of the impending arrival of Goode. I don’t believe from the review that he was, until much to late to stop. Whereas Payne ran a straight line to follow the ball, Goode’s run brought him from Left to Right and may very well have not appeared in Payne’s peripheral vision until too late too halt change his run.

      The margins are tiny, but in incidents like this the referee has to be certain that there was either intent, or that there was recklessness to award a red card. Neither was the case, it was a collision instigated by neither player. It happens in a contact sport funnily enough.

      • “it was a collision instigated by neither player”. That makes no sense. ‘instigated’ just means ‘to bring about’ or ‘to make happen’. So the collision had to be instigated by one or both of them, or else they didn’t collide. And since Goode was in mid-air, lets just assume that the man who ran into the other man was the instigator. I don’t care what kind of line Payne was running, and I don’t care if Goode was beamed down from a spaceship to collect that ball, Payne had to know that someone from Saracens was going to contest. Not looking is not an excuse. He deserved a card (although I really did feel it was a yellow, not a red, the fact that he ran into him and it was dangerous is not up for debate here).

  4. Hairy Naomh Mhuire

     /  April 7, 2014

    Hats of to WoC (Egg in particular for obvious reasons) for having the honesty & integrity to analyse the sending off & reach the conclusion that you reached. For what it’s worth I agree with this analysis (up until now as a minority of one) & the comparison with Warburton at RWC is bang on. Gerry says ‘The laws state that players competing for the ball in the air have a duty of care to their opponents, and do not judge whether a player’s actions are malicious, but that merely shows the laws are an ass’ Gerry is wrong. Judging the motivations of another as a factor in penalising their actions is a very inexact science & has perplexed many a jury. On a rugby pitch the key is duty of care to the opponent & recklessness is sufficient to warrant the ultimate sanction. Warburton almost certainly had no malicious intent. But he endangered an opponents health. What also often gets overlooked is that, when somebody got around to asking him for his opinion, he accepted that Elaine was correct. (I’ve always greatly admired him for that). I have great sympathy for Ulster but the integrity (that word again) of the game from a player welfare perspective was well served by Garces’ considered & brave call.

    • moreinhope

       /  April 7, 2014

      I agree. Fair, reaoned and balanced article which makes this blog what it is. Gerry’s moronic ‘the laws are an ass’ comment shows the man has no integrity or fidelity to a consistent point of view. I’m fairly sure he wasn’t calling for the rule book to be thrown out when assessing Rolland’s ‘courageous’ decision to send off Warburton.

      • I think Gerry’s comments are a bit distasteful. He admits it was reckless, but doesn’t seem to attach any weight to that. The ‘eyes on the ball’ argument is sadly a red herring.

        He also makes the pretty odious assumption that Garces made the decision in order to become the game’s central figure. Maybe he just figured it was worthy of a red card out of concern for player safety?

        • B

           /  April 7, 2014

          Good blog post, very fair and weighed all the options. Nice to see some common sense in rugby punditry as it were. I was going to post that the eyes on the ball thing is a major red herring, players have to assume there will be competition for the ball it would be foolish not to.

          Even though it probably wasn’t the winning or losing of the game the fact that Bowe dropped numerous high balls that he normally would have nailed annoyed/saddened me a little. I imagine he was a bit shook mentally from the card incident, and seemed to get up for several catches only to pull back at the last moment and miss or knock on. Anyone else notice this or just my imagination?

          • I noticed one that was near to me, but I didn’t think there were many incidents of Bowe or Trimble playing particularly badly, I actually thought they were two of the best players on the pitch on the day.

          • B

             /  April 7, 2014

            Oh I thought the two of them were very very good for sure just that Bowe in the air was not himself imo.
            One of the things I felt over the weekend was you could still see the impression Schmidt has made on so many of the players. Trimble has been a revelation. POC looked comfortable with the ball and even passed well from the base of rucks as stand in sh. All three teams doing their best to move in field when going into contact to retain possession (a small thing but how many players forget to do this and get pushed into touch? Some of toulon’s players did iirc).

  5. Bobby T

     /  April 7, 2014

    Just for arguments sake. Does Goode not have a duty of care not to jump over another player? I am being facetious but honestly it is a mirky issue.Had Goode completely miss judged his jump the ball could easily have been in Paynes hands and he was in under the post and it would have been celebrated as a great piece of play. Is the onus on every player to be completely aware of the presence of all players in the vicinity of the ball? The argument that Payne had his eyes on the ball is that he never even saw Goode. Does he need to anticipate a contest and scan the area? (that is a serious question?) If he had lifted his feet 2cm off the ground (a la Blaine Scully vs Clermont) would Goode not still have ended up in the same position? If Goode had been under the ball and stood his ground to take and Payne jumped over him and landed on his neck should Goode get a red card?
    I’m not arguing with the ref’s decision but am genuinely interested. Can someone please post a link or direct me to the exact rules on this issue?

    • I don’t really follow the argument. The rule is that you can’t play the man in the air, because it’s dangerous. If two chaps are jumping for a 50-50 ball and they collide the referee will presumably accept that it’s a coming together with neither at fault, but the rule is; don’t play the man in the air. The stuff about Payne having eyes on the ball and had he jumped it would have been fine are red herrings. If he jumped and tackled Goode, it still would have been a penalty; it just mightn’t have looked as bad. By not even appearing to contest the ball, he made the whole thing worse.

      • Shelflife68

         /  April 7, 2014

        WOC later in the game, Sarries were penalised for playing the man in the air, yet there was no card, the only difference is that in the second offence the player returned to ground safely.

        same offense technically, penalised under the same law -dangerous play, so where do you draw the line ?

        • Yea, but it was a penalty, right? The point in the above is that the defence that ‘Payne had his eyes on the ball’ doesn’t somehow make what he was doing in any way legal (or less reckless).

      • Payne was perfectly positioned to contest for the ball with anyone on the ground and wanted to take the ball running at pace. Everyone seems to agree he didn’t see Payne jumping for the ball until maybe a second before the impact, giving him no time change his gait to that needed to jump for the ball. Goode came from outside his line of sight, which was fixed on the ball, and jumped in front of him into his path. Had Goode not jumped into the air into the path of someone running at full tilt in a straight line he would not have ended up landing on his neck, yet Payne is the only person deemed reckless.
        I am not seeking to say Payne did anything outside the letter or even spirit of the Laws, but merely that the Laws and analysis seem somewhat one-sided.

        • Ok, but as I said already above, they’re playing Saracens in a Heineken Cup Quarter final. Does he really think that somehow the entire opposition team is standing off and not contesting the ball? The coverage is one-sided, because one side is right. If you’re having a roundtable discussion about the holocaust, you don’t give equal time to holocaust deniers.

          • And the reward for utterly absurd hyperbolic comparison of the day goes to…

          • You may not tackle a player in the air. So what if a player running with the ball jumps after you’ve lined up a hit on his midriff, catches your shoulder with his foot and topples over onto his head? Clearly the jumping player is at fault and would get pinged, but I’m damned if I can find anything in the Laws to back that up. If in that scenario the jumping, tackled player doesn’t get the protection of 10.4(e) (as opposed to 10.4(i) which clearly doesn’t apply), why not?

      • Bobby T

         /  April 7, 2014

        Thats fine but he was undeniably contesting the ball. His eyes were focussed on it and his arms were up to accept it. If Goode wasn’t there he would certainly have caught it. Is it not deemed a contest because he didnt jump? Again I am not looking for ‘red herrings’, Im merely trying to figure out the exact leagality.

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  April 7, 2014

      All the laws are on the IRB website but as with any law, they can’t cover in detail every eventuality that may come up. In this particular case, interfering with the player in the air is under the dangerous play laws (10.4) and a red card for a player landing on his head/shoulder area appears to be the protocol introduced for tip-tackling. The red card for this isn’t in the laws but instructions to referees – this may be confirmed at the disciplinary hearing.

    • Relevant laws are 10.4(e) and 10.4(i) – see http://www.irblaws.com/index.php?law=10.4
      Interestingly I thought attempting to jump over a tackle was specifically illegal, but I can’t find any specific reference to it in the Laws.

      • Patrick O'Riordan

         /  April 7, 2014

        It’s in the tag rugby laws!

      • Bobby T

         /  April 7, 2014

        Thanks Tom

      • D6W

         /  April 7, 2014

        The following is also interesting. It would seem from this that the key point in deciding whether it is a yellow or red card is whether there is regard for the opponent players safety. If there is no regard for the players safety, than it should be a red card.

        http://www.irblaws.com/index.php?highlight=Red%20card&domain=9&guideline=3

        You can still argue about the decision, but it is indisputable that Payne gave the ref the opportunity to send him off. Some refs may have spurned that opportunity, but this one didn’t, unfortunately for Ulster.

        • Well put, exactly right. Decision arguable, borderline etc., but red card definitely within reason.

        • Bobby T

           /  April 7, 2014

          My question is how can you have regard for the players safety if you don’t know they are there? Payne clearly did not see Goode coming across and jumping. Is there an onus on him to be aware of all players around the ball and the possibility of the contest?
          Again I am not trying to be deliberately argumentative, I am genuinely asking this question because I cannot find reference to it in the rules.

          • D6W

             /  April 7, 2014

            There is an onus on the player not to make illegal contact whatever the circumstances IE obey the rules of the game, and if contact is made, there is an onus on on the player to have due regard for the opponents safety. And there is an onus on the referee to take the latter into account when deciding whether to card him or not, as dictated by IRB (see above link).

          • Bobby T

             /  April 7, 2014

            Think that somewhat misinterprits my question but thanks anyway. The premise being that it is not an illegal act to attempt to catch a ball. Accidental contact may well be illegal (although again not explicitly stated) but ‘due regard for the opponents safety’ again doesn’t come into it if there can be no reasonable expectation of an ‘unsafe’ situation. If someone can point me to a law that states that you should anticipate such situations then fair enough but I cant find it.
            While to a certain extent I agree with the red card in that it sends out the message that you should in fact be aware of the potential for a player to be in the air in such a situation and it may save an underage player form breaking his neck, and I would not disagree with Garce necessarily for awarding the red card, I cant find any current explicit law stating the responsibility to be aware of the opponents positioning when out of sight.

          • Lop12

             /  April 8, 2014

            Because the onlys is on you to know they are there, simple as that. For an experienced player I think Paynes biggest error was not jumping to contest. There is no penalty, no card, no injury.

          • Bobby T

             /  April 8, 2014

            Thanks Lop12. That seems to be the assumption but again I cant find it stated in the laws. If I am missing something then please pot the relevant section or link.
            Again I’m not complaining about the card I’m just genuinely curious.

  6. hulkinator

     /  April 7, 2014

    I thought it was a red at first but now I don’t. Both were running for the ball but Goode jumped into Payne giving Payne no time to react. Goode also turned his back in mid air which Kent he landed without being able to use his arms.

    So basically from now on all players will be instructed to jump for the ball.

    The cheat chants can be heard in Wales every week. I hope it doesn’t spread because it doesn’t look great for the home supporters.

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  April 7, 2014

      Players are already instructed to jump for the ball precisely because the laws give protection to a player in the air.

      That is why it was such a misjudgment on Payne’s part – if he had jumped to contest the ball in the air, or held back a fraction to tackle the player on the ground, then Garces wouldn’t have been faced with a red card decision.

      I know it is easy to say in hindsight, but as WoC mentions, I wonder if Ulster were a wee bit too fired up.

    • I think that’s not a bad thing to keep in mind hulkinator. You’ve now changed your mind after reflection etc. I know Garces took a geological age/ 6 minutes to decide but at the end of the day refs have to make these decisions without the benefit of extensive rewatching and under severe pressure. Even if it was the wrong call in hindsight, which I don’t think it was, you do have to back what the man in the middle does as much as possible.

  7. Shelflife68

     /  April 7, 2014

    My view is that it was a yellow, chatting to some fellow refs its a 70:30 breakdown in favour of YC as well. The view is that there was no tackle involved merely a collision.

    For those who say that intent is irrelevant I say thats bullshit.

    1 .You have a player in the air a la Goode and the arriving player trips and catches him in the air accidentally

    2. player in the air and the arriving player clearly takes the player in a deliberate manner.

    3. player attempting to tackle the ball carrier, ball carrier slips and the tackler effectively clothes lines the ball carrier.

    4. ball carrier runs a straight line and the tackler jumps at and clothes lines the ball carrier with no attempt to wrap.

    If you cant factor in intent then all four are red cards

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  April 7, 2014

      Shelflife68 – just read the laws… the ones that rely upon intent, have the word “intent” in them and the Dangerous Play laws don’t. Refs aren’t perfect but in general they apply the laws as they are actually written, not how you think they are written. Regarding Dangerous Tackles, they even say: “Referees and Citing Commissioners should not make their decisions based on what they consider was the intention of the offending player.”

      • Shelflife68

         /  April 7, 2014

        Well versed in the laws thanks Patrick. Are you saying then that all of the above senarios are red cards ?

        • Patrick O'Riordan

           /  April 7, 2014

          They are all penalties according to the laws. The laws themselves don’t prescribe the circumstances for a yellow or red card so this is determined by the referee’s judgement, guidance and training and the actual event. You won’t get any referee giving a definitive answer purely based upon a few words like your examples. IRB guidance to refs was to award a red card if a tip tackle resulted in a player landing on their head/upper body and it looks like Garces has applied this to the Payne/Goode incident.

          • Shelflife68

             /  April 7, 2014

            Patrick as a ref myself I can tell you that intent as determined by the ref will decide the sanction if any over and above the pen as determined in the law book. The IRB guidance on the tip tackle was exactly that guidance on a tip tackle senario – no other senario. If Garces applied that guidance then he was wrong to do so.
            Fwiw most if not all refs would be able to give definitive answers on the above senarios. Pen, Pen RC, Pen, Pen RC.

  8. Rava

     /  April 7, 2014

    “and one wonders if Ulster were a little too wound up early on”

    Payne was clearly wound up from the start. His kick out on the full only served to intensify this and the ensuing kick chase was all about trying to atone. Hes an experienced mature player and should have been able to control himself much better.

    I turned to some people at the time and said I think this is bad. I wasn’t surprised at the outcome.

    With regard to the supporters, there is an unsavoury element who will chant “cheat cheat” or “hee haw”. Unfortunately its the global attraction of the sport and the success over the past few seasons. A lot of the “new” supporters are converts from soccer and seem to think this is acceptable. A sadder fact is a good many of them are around my age (50’s) and really should know better.

    It’s for Ulster Rugby to deal with this otherwise the good reputation we have built up could be damaged.

  9. Ugh, was right on the touchline at the game (turned out to be handy when Schalk Brits came over and said we were the best crowd he’s played in front of and shook my hands, which was a nice gesture).

    Positives:
    – Goode hasn’t broken his neck or taken any other serious injury
    – Ulster made Sarries with a man advantage look *very* average (Scott Johnson would probably have killed for Scotland to play like that against Wales), and probably gained a lot goodwill from neutrals
    – At least ONE Irish province made it to the semis
    – The atmosphere, bar a few elements (cheat chants etc), as much as the players could have given up, the crowd could easily have just thrown their hands up in the air and gone home at half time, but it was pretty electric.
    – Trimble and Bowe. They outplayed Strettle/Ashton in everything bar scoring tries. Joe Schmidt has his wingers, I think.

    Negatives:
    – The card, obviously. One thing I’d like to know (having been there rather than watching on TV) is if Garces asked the TMO to give his opinion? Because the screens at Ravenhill are hardly HD, especially in slow-mo watching from the middle of the pitch. There’s been enough (and there will be MORE than enough) debate on what it should have been so I don’t see any point adding more to it here.
    – Another point a few neutrals made on Reddit was the fact that Garces gave Ulster very little from the scrum, despite Vunipola doing his best “what if Jonny May was a prop” charade. (I get the impression the game would have gone *very* differently if Nigel Owens had been helicoptered up from Munster to ref the match.)
    – Could have been down to the man advantage (or a certain P. Marshall but I didn’t think he was THAT bad), but we never really looked like getting anywhere near drop-goal range at the end. Even with Henderson and Ferris on the pitch, we couldn’t make a couple of yards, which is concerning.
    – Seeing how heartbroken the players were, especially Muller.
    – Crowd cheat chants. No point in it, Garces wouldn’t be a international referee if he couldn’t tune that shit out.
    – Injuries, and all of them seem like they’ll hurt us a fair bit. Pienaar needs to be rested for a few weeks at least (and Paul Marshall obviously needs game time, despite how un-terrible I thought he was), Best’s ankle didn’t look terribly bad as he hobbled to the changing room past us, but Trimble didn’t look like he could count to one when he was sent packing.
    – The theoretical score if Farrell hadn’t been such a wuss. Could have been fairly embarrassing.
    – Anscombe not pulling the trigger on Warwick or Lutton, even if it would risk some scrum strength for the advantage of fresh legs, which I thought was a pity.

    At least we have a decent run-in to the Rab- oh. Piss. Well at least Leinster will be pre-occup- what? Oh fucking hell. Hopefully Ulster use some of the anger to spur them on to at least something to send Johann, John and Tom off with!

    • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

       /  April 7, 2014

      Great post!

    • Great post except for the theoretical score bit. Saffracens missed 10 points from the tee, Ulster 9, which is a roundabout way of saying Ulster were very good and Sarries very bad.

      • Ah yeah, I probably got a little one-eyed in my summary given how much drama there was around Farrell’s kicking and how little fuss there was around Ulster’s kicks, thanks!

  10. Unfortunately Garces got it wrong, the rules on foul and dangerous play only refer to tackling a player in the air and Payne most definitely did not tackle Goode in the air. The arms were outstretched to catch the ball so saying his “body shape in entering the contact zone was all wrong” is assuming that he should’ve jumped to make the catch.

    When Muller spoke to the ref he should have been bringing his attention to the fact that Payne was intent on catching and not tackling hence he had his eyes on the ball rather than the focus being solely on the “eyes on the ball”.

    This isn’t comparable to Warburton in the RWC semi, Warburton had control of the player and was reckless with him. Payne never entered into that scenario, he was simply challenging for the ball. Yes, if he’d jumped it would have looked better but how it looks is how we fans judge it, whether it’s within the laws is how the ref should be looking at it.

    It goes without saying that we don’t want players injured in the game and of course there are incidents where players are tackled in the air and it’s reckless and there should be cards (even red) but the referee has to be sensible here and apply the laws of the game (as Rolland did in Auckland). For me Garces had no excuse; the use of the TMO was there, he used it and he made the call based on a collision not a tackle which, according to the rule book is incorrect. Ulster can feel rightly aggrieved.

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  April 7, 2014

      The laws protect a player in the air being tackled, tapped, pulled and dropped so claiming it is ok because it wasn’t a tackle is clutching at straws. An illegal tackle is still a tackle.

      • Yeah, Patrick I saw that but it’s under the heading of “Tackling the jumper in the air”. I saw the incident as an attempt by both players to catch the ball, albeit with very different techniques! I don’t think it’s clutching at straws to say that it wasn’t a tackle, my instinct was that Payne was looking to catch the ball right up to when he collided with Goode so at no stage was he attempting the tackle. By that assessment he couldn’t be penalised for an illegal tackle as it shouldn’t have entered into it.

        From a catching technique POV I do think Payne should’ve been more aware of where he was on the pitch and that there was likely to be an opponent challenging so would’ve needed to jump but still don’t think it’s a red!

      • 1: Yes he should have jumped. You routinely see Kearney jumping for nonce breadbasket catches, rather than take them standing, as it gives him an extra split-second to decide what to do next . If Payne jumps, he is entitled to the same protection as his opponent. If he stays on the deck, he is solely responsible for the outcome of the play, with specific reference to his opponent’s safety.

        2: A “collision” is another word for a no-arms tackle; 10.4 (g): “A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without trying to grasp that player.” I think, ignoring the aerial element for a moment, “knock down” covers what happened here somewhat euphemistically. So your argument merely points out he committed 2 penalty offences, not one, regardless of intent.

        Whether a yellow or red card was merited is not the main point here (to be honest I don’t buy the comparison with Warburton’s red: clumsily and stupidly running into someone is not as open-and-shut as pick-turn-dump); that what Payne did was as dumb as a bag of hammers, is.

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  April 7, 2014

          The comparison with Warburton’s red was not so much about the offence but rather whether motive (or lack thereof) can be a mitigating factor. An argument put forward against red in both cases is that the act was not intentional.

  11. Leinsterlion

     /  April 7, 2014

    These things happen, c’est la vie, Payne will be kicking himself, they arguably had the easiest of the Irish games and were best placed to progress. With the tournament getting harder and Ulster getting weaker, they will be hard pressed to continue their upward progress, it will be hard to see them challenging for a semi next season.

    • Well said Leinsterlion, we definitely let this one get away from us, and we’re definitely going into a forward-based transition period. Hard to overstate how good Muller, Court and Afoa have been for us these last few years, especially Muller’s leadership. That said I think Anscombe’s done a pretty good job of getting players ship-shape relatively quickly (Nick Williams being a notable example, although some of that will probably have come from their past together).

      • Please don’t mention Nick Williams and ship-shape in the same sentence!

        Joking aside, Williams isn’t a player for the level Ulster aspire to – fine against the Dragons, but he barely did one thing of note in two quarter-finals in the HEC

        • To be fair not many players managed one thing of note last year’s quarter final (NWJMB being the main exception). I’ll accept that he wasn’t as effective as I’d like him to be on Saturday, but he still made a couple of decent runs with the ball.

  12. I’ll preface this by saying I was gutting for Ulster, and Payne and that I’m no rugby expert. But having initially thought it was never a red, I now think that while harsh, it was probably a marginal red.

    There’s an up and under into opposition territory. The attacking player is watching the ball but he has to be at least aware of what the defenders are doing – he’s running forward after all – so he should have been aware what was going on around him. He has to have expected that an defender would contest for a contestable ball in the air. i don’t think the fact that he didn’t tackle him is a defence. I don’t think the fact that he didn’t see him is a defence. The Warbs RWC tackle was different in thar Warbs was in control in the tackle, where is Payne was not in control, he wasn’t aware as he should have been.

    Anyway, Ravenhill looked fantastic and the corwd obviously had an impact becuase Saracens were rattled against 14 men.

  13. Ro

     /  April 7, 2014

    I have a problem with this sending off. Payne obviously was watching the ball and didnt see Goode. It was an accident. If rugby players are to have a ‘duty of care’ what happens if two players run into each other (on their feet) and clash heads, who is to blame and who has the duty of care? Should both be sent off? Obviously not.

    • It depends Ro. How do they clash heads in your scenario?
      It doesn’t matter that it was an accident. Payne made a mistake. You can argue over the harshness of the decision, but when he did that, he always left himself open to a carding.

  14. Kelly Peters

     /  April 7, 2014

    Fantastic article as ever and good to see you guys take national bias out of it and look at it from a rational standpoint. A couple of things stood out to me in the aftermath of Payne’s red card.

    1. In this day in age surely teams spend a portion of their pre-game analysis looking at the tendencies of the referee in all facets of the game. A 5 minute google search of Jermoe Garces shows that he is someone who takes a very hard line when it comes to dangerous play. Freshest in the memory being the Hogg incident but I remember him sending off Grewcock a few years back against Ulster for stamping and 2 US players in the same game against Italy a few years back for 2 borderline dangerous tackles. Garces’ go to move in the event of dangerous play is a red card and the Ulster players must’ve (I hope) been briefed on this.

    2. I can’t remember what game in the Six Nations it was but someone referenced the fact that the Irish coaching staff had approached the referee pre-game to discuss the contesting of high-balls to see what would be allowed. They were clearly given the go ahead to contest 50-50 balls as long as they made an attempt to play the ball and were also in the air. Numerous times the Kearnage brothers or Andrew Trimble went aerial to contest balls they had little chance of winning, often times sending the opposition player crashing to the deck in a similar manner to Goode. The key was they got off their feet and that they had warned the ref and gotten the go ahead to use this tactic.

    Finally I’m just pleased that Goode was ok. A few weeks ago a NRL player called Alex mcKinnon broke his neck in a fairly innocuous tackle and has been left a quadriplegic. Once a player comes crashing down to the ground like that there is a chance he could suffer a serious injury. That’s why the IRB and refs are taking a hard line on dangerous play.

    • Thanks for the comment, and good insight. The Garces point is a good one – its a bit Mourinho-esque, but all teams should really be preparing dossiers on referees – given how close games are at the top level, if it helps you avoid one penalty a game (or a red card!), its got to be worth the investment

  15. Matt

     /  April 7, 2014

    I understand all your arguments WOC, and see where you are coming from. Fair play for saying what you actually think instead of just telling the baying masses what they want to hear!
    But in my opinion, it was a yellow card. I suppose it depends on your view of the role of the red card, but I always think in rugby it is only used in truly exceptional circumstances. Stuart Hogg’s ‘challenge’ on Biggar was pretty exceptional, as the last red card I saw live, as were the headbutts in France-Italy, and there were arguments that was a soft red! Warburton’s was certainly a tip tackle, and as it occurred in the midst of a tip tackle clamp-down, it was certainly an exceptional offence for the ref. All things considered, was Payne’s that exceptional?
    On the main argument, thatPayne had his eyes on the ball the whole time.
    I agree with you that this doesn’t invalidate any contact, but that wasn’t Muller or Payne’s argument. There are three undeniable facts I think to consider.
    1. Payne had his eyes ONLY on the ball
    2. He made no effort to contest the ball
    3. He took a man out in the air
    In my opinion, him having his eyes on the ball the whole time doesn’t make it less reckless, as it is reckless to not be aware of your surroundings, especially since he should’ve considered an opponent was likely to be in the air. Therefore his recklessness in that regard deserved a penalty, and a yellow card. But to then accept 1 as true, 2 is irrelevant as he didn’t see the player there, hence the reason for 3. When you disregard 2, and therefore why 3 is a ‘taking out’ and not a challenge,it is not a red card offence in my view. Thoughts on this argument?

    • Its a reasonable argument and a good one, but again you acknowledge that a red is at least in consideration, if he was reckless. Garces saw it in a harsh light.

      • Matt

         /  April 8, 2014

        I definitely still feel that Garces made the wrong decision, but you are correct that Jared gave him the option in an act of stupidity (Which won’t have impressed Mr Schmidt at all I’d have thought!) although it is very in characteristic for him.
        What are your thoughts on the usage of the red card? Would you agree it only needs to be used for truly exceptional offences?

  16. Buccaneer

     /  April 7, 2014

    The sending off reminds me of Nani getting sent off for Man Utd against Real Madrid in the champions league last year. Roy Keane made the point that a player needs to be aware of other players on the pitch, and that every ball is there to be contested. I am inclined to agree. I only seen a gif of the tackle but it looked horrendous. Horrible way to have a QF influenced but from what I have read its not like ulster layed down. They did themselves proud

  17. Jojo

     /  April 7, 2014

    So in light of the above Paul o Connell should definitely have seen red for his kick on Dave Kearney

    • Jojo

       /  April 7, 2014

      The law is too inconsistent , he penalised Botha for an intentional non dangerous tackle in the air. In leinsters match dk and someone else competed for a ball in the air, he had it first the Toulon player tried grab it mid air knocking his feet and causing his fall.

      I don’t believe it should have been a red. When you go for a high ball some contact is always possible. That’s why full backs like May and rob are praised so highly. Because it takes full commitment and some fool hardiness

      Otherwise it’ll be a case of first off feet is only one who can compete

    • Lop12

       /  April 8, 2014

      Yes

    • Again with the O’ Connell/Kearney incident. Can we not put that to bed? It’s been over a year now… They’re hardly going to go back at this stage and retro-actively have a disciplinary hearing.

  18. Yossarian

     /  April 7, 2014

    Was wondering how long it would take for the Paul o Connell Dave k kick to be mentioned! Lack of awareness of where the other players on the pitch are, not deliberate, reckless. Striking similarity!

  19. Michael Robinson

     /  April 7, 2014

    Putting aside the Payne incident for a moment, the injury toll on the Ulster players was unbelievable:
    Afoa : disc injury, out for this weekend
    Best : ankle sprain, out for 6-8 weeks
    Pienaar : joint injury, out for 6 weeks
    Tuohy : fractured hand, out for at least a month
    Wilson : fractured thumb, out until May

  20. Ferg

     /  April 8, 2014

    Looking back on it now, when Goode was on the ground I had that horrible feeling in my gut that something bad was about to happen so I knew that a red was a distinct possibility. I think had it happened in the 76th minute and we lost people wouldn’t be questioning the decision as much but there was just such disbelief that the game was basically over as soon as it started. I do wonder though how the hell Payne thought he was going to get that ball without jumping though, I mean how often does that happen?

    There was a great video on youtube (which has since been removed) of Colin Slade & Matt Proctor which is basically the exact same incident only the (Goode) player gets straight up and tries to beat a man whereas the (Payne) player is lying on the ground bucked. Referee didn’t even award a penalty! I do think the referee took the injury into account when he made his decision.

    • Those 2 things .. the gut feeling (will never forget it) and Payne not even jumping (I’ll never understand it – but basically a brain fart) .. bringing back bad memories.

  21. SportingBench

     /  April 8, 2014

    I think it is terrible that the red card happened so early but it is hard to argue that it was unjust. Payne made a mistake and took out a man in the air. Those saying but he had his eyes on the ball are making a spurious argument. You can run around the rugby field ignoring where the opposition are. What if a player had been lying prone on the ground and in racing after the ball Payne ran over him from a long way back planting both feet in his chest? Would the, he had eyes on the ball mitigation be used in that case?
    The other argument of, what if Payne had jumped is even more spurious. Yes, if Payne had jumped that would have been different but it’s a bit like saying what if Payne hadn’t touched him? Payne didn’t jump.
    Everyone I have talked to thinks it was a penalty. Most people think it was a definite yellow card. In that case you have got to accept that the red card is in play and whether it was unlucky or not to actually receive the red rather than the yellow, Payne unfortunately made the referee make a choice. If you ask the referee to make a decision then you can’t cry when they make one.
    The sadness is that Ulster had a great chance this year. The performance following the card suggests Ulster could easily have won this game and then a “home” semi… Gutting but not unjust.

  22. Stephen McComiskey

     /  April 8, 2014

    Smashing read, WOC 🙂
    Re. Payne: It took me time to sober up and get the white goggles off, but for me it was a red. Primarily because despite the absolute clarity surrounding the lack of intent, I buy into the duty of care argument, and I think if nothing else it sets a strong, Warburton-esque precedent in the area of player safety being paramount.

    Re. Ulster: I don’t think I could be more proud of my team. Having been to Tigers thrashings, Toulouse maulings, that game @ Thomond, I never imagined I could be prouder still in defeat. But every last scrap of heart, blood and soul was left on the Ravenhill turf, and that’s my lasting memory rather than the card.

    Re. Ravenhill fans: East Terrace is fast deteriorating in the quality of it’s tenants, and I for one don’t support blaming ‘new’ or ‘casual’ fans. Many Ulster fans can be seen begging for penalties they then vociferously boo when like-for-like offences go against UR. I am not alone in calling out such fans when I’m confident in what I’ve seen as a clear pen against us, but if I’m often leaving Ravenhill embarrassed, somethings wrong…

    Good luck Munster! SUAF

  23. Pedantic Pete

     /  April 8, 2014

    I suppose that my main issue with the red is if the scenario was reversed is it still a red card, Bobby T asked this question above but I think it was overlooked in the responses.

    So if Goode is on the ground and Payne jumps in an attempt to collect the ball and is upended by Goode in a similar manner is it a red card? I have my suspicions that there isn’t a ref out there that would give Goode a red in this scenario possibly not even a yellow.

    The question then is whether the defending player is treaded in a different manner to the attacking player for a contestable kick. In this case is there such a thing as a 50/50 kick or are they all 60/40 in favour of the defender as they choose the setting for the contest? Other than the law protecting possession if a player is tackled immediately when receiving a kick and held up are there any other laws that protect the defending player over the attacking player?

    Not entirely sure if this is blurring the matter further but I think if there is a scenario where a similar set of circumstances would never result in a red card there can be no argument for it if the roles are reversed.

    • Stephen McComiskey

       /  April 8, 2014

      I believe so, however consider as a receiving full back at this level of the game your positioning on the field, the likelihood of an exact reversal of the collision is miniscule. Payne has to be behind the kicker and so has to hit top speed and it is a much more frantic action to reach the point of contact than a kick reciever deep infield. For this reason it is correct that the reciever has that extra bit of protection that you correctly point out. As for the law encouraging players to jump in the first place, I don’t have a problem with that as long as player safety is upheld by the application of the laws, as is (somewhat arguably! 😉 ) the case here.

      • I think you have it exactly right, Stephen. Also, the same logic counters all the ‘he didn’t see Goode coming and didn’t know he was there’ arguments. Surely the attacking player has to know that the defending 15 is at least going to be there to contest the ball given he doesn’t have remotely the same distance to travel to get there?

        Eddie O’Sullivan wrote about how the decision will set a precedent for players to ‘get in the air’ today. As far as I can see this alredy happens. I’ve seen Kearney jump when he doesn’t even have to a number of times, usually quite cannily. It gives him an extra second to play with and there’s always the chance a player near him will make the mistake of touching him while he’s up there and cost his team a penalty.

        • Stephen McComiskey

           /  April 8, 2014

          I completely agree. The way i see it, this gets quite close to one the tactical fundamentals of the game… Kicking the ball is conceding possession. You need to allow some sort of advantage to the reciever. You can’t have a situation where teams are kicking the ball and lining up sickening tackles on defenceless recievers when you get your kick & chase right. That’s NFL, not rugby.

          • Stephen McComiskey

             /  April 8, 2014

            (Incidentally, it goes without saying that had Payne allowed him to come to ground, tackled him, and won possession fairly, it would have been superb play. I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. However in being allowed to come safely to the ground and contest the ball on the ground, the slender advantage I’m on about would have already been taken, in coming safely to the ground with a turnover of possession.)

        • Bobby T

           /  April 8, 2014

          Interesting and that all makes perfect sense guys but again the ‘surely the attacking player has to know that the defending 15 is at least going to be there’ is what I would question. What if it had been a turnover from a full back cutting a line between the 2 centres and then the scrum-half launches a bomb of a box-lick. There is every chance there would be no-one at home. All the above is based on the assumption that Payne should have known that there would be someone there. I keep asking is there a law that actually infers this? or is it just implied in ‘reckless’? I can’t see one eventhough people keep on assuming it is there. Perhaps there should be a law stating this and there probably needs to be but I don’t think it currently exists.

          Another thing I don’t understand is why people keep talking in terms of ‘at this level’? That means absolutely nothing – these are just a bunch of guys who are good at a sport and have passed a medical. They are not ‘professionals’ in the traditional meaning of the term and have not done an exam (to the best of my knowledge) to allow them practice. Should you need a qualification to be a professional rugby player? Perhaps so….?

        • SportingBench

           /  April 8, 2014

          I remember an England Ireland game where Rob Kearney not only jumped to catch a ball when he didn’t need to but also stuck his foot out. The kick chaser idotically ran into the outstreched foot, conceding the penalty and injurying themselves. To a non-rugby person Kearney had just jumped up and kicked the chaser but the referee, correctly waved away English protests saying it is the second person to the ball’s job to make sure they don’t interfere with the jumper. So players manipulating the “in the air” protections is neither new nor alien.

      • Pedantic Pete

         /  April 8, 2014

        I take the point about an exact reversal being quite unlikely but if a full back is holding firm on a spot and chooses not to jump for the ball (as would have been the case before the change in laws that allowed you to call for a mark in the air, obviously not Mr. Kearney’s style but I’ll get to that in a bit) then up ends a chasing player what do we make of that? By the rational implied above he should be aware that the likely hood is that an attacking player could be there attempting to jump and collect the ball and therefore he is responsible for the safety of the attacking player? Again I doubt there would be much if any punishment dished out to the defending player.

        On the issue where a defender jumps without it being entirely/at all necessary a la Kearney it is usually to stop a defender from tackling them. I have a bit of a problem with this when it is clear that the player is not, in the parlance of the NFL, attacking the ball at its highest point. a player in this instance is essentially waiting for the ball to drop and trying to jumping out of the tackle but with the protection of the law. One point above asked the question if it was illegal to jump out of a tackle but it seems that it is only the case in tag. To my mind in this situation the defending player is endanger themselves but is unlikely to get pinged for it either.

        Not that it needs to be said but I’ll say it anyway I’m for player safety, no one wants to see players carted off the park regardless of how the injury occurred. However a situation where one player seems to become totally responsible for both their own safety and the safety of the opposing player regardless of what they do seems to be a little askew.

        • Stephen McComiskey

           /  April 8, 2014

          Bobby T, good reply, I’m afraid I don’t have anything concrete in the laws, of course you can’t legislate for everything but one thing I think we all can agree on is the lack of clarity as the laws are currently written. I also take back the use of ‘at this level’, you’re quite right. I don’t usually get tore into these debates!
          I also completely agree with that last sentence in Pete’s reply, a thought that hadn’t much occurred to me earlier…
          One final thought from me is that no matter what you do, the potential for such collisions can’t ever be fully removed from the game, and I’m just grateful in this case Goode was back on his feet in no time.

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