I just read the following in the Telegraphs article reporting that Wales considered cheating in the Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

 “Under the letter of the law there is a number of decisions the referee can make and I just thought on that occasion – the semi-final of a World Cup – that to give a yellow card would have been the appropriate decision ” said Gatland as he carefully explained why Wales considered such a radical move

I might be missing something here, but why should the game make any difference to how the rules are interpreted? Is the same tackle any less dangerous if it’s in a semi-final of a major tournament, or a pre-season friendly? I understand the debate about whether the tackle was dangerous enough to qualify for a red card, or if a yellow card was a more appropriate response, but that has nothing  to do with what game the offence was committed in – that debate is whether the tackle in and of itself meets the criteria laid down by the IRB for a red card.

According to the article, Gatland went on to say,

“In terms of the rules and regulations he was perfectly entitled to give a red card but every game is different and you take the circumstances, the situation and intent into account. I think a yellow card would have been the right decision to make.”

So, by the rules the ref was correct, but he shouldn’t have given a red because  it was an important game for the team and the player didn’t really mean it, and the victim didn’t actually get hurt despite landing on his back/neck? It wouldn’t really have sent out the wrong signals to all the people watching around the world, that a dangerous tackle is OK if it’s in an important game, would it?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the ref has to manage the game he’s in appropriately – it isn’t just about laying down the rules, it’s about sensible management of players in a volatile atmosphere. At the same time, there are some things that have to remain immutable – and play than endangers an opponent is surely one of them.