The alarming proliferation of cards in Super Rugby is showing no signs of abating.
There were 49 more cards in Super Rugby last year than what they were in 2016. In the first full round of 2018, there were 10 cards in seven games and in four of those games the cards had a massive bearing on the final result.
In fact of the 439 points scored across all matches last weekend, 149 or a third were scored when one side was undermanned.
The only match which featured no cards was the entertaining and competitive tussle between the Brumbies and Sunwolves. Wasn’t it great to watch a game that was settled 15 on 15?
Scott Higginbotham was sent off for the Reds against the Rebels after nine minutes when neither team had scored. The Rebels kicked on to a resounding 45-19 victory.
Antonio Kiri Kiri was yellow carded in the 55th minute for the Blues against the Highlanders on Friday night. The Blues were ahead 31-24 when Kiri Kiri was temporarily dismissed. While he was gone the Blues conceded two converted tries and subsequently lost the match 41-34.
The two biggest shifts in momentum in the Chiefs v Crusaders match were due to cards. Michael Alaalatoa was yellow carded for the Crusaders in the 32nd minute allowing the Chiefs to rally to within two points at halftime after being outplayed for the first half an hour.
In the 72nd minute, Lachlan Boshier was yellow carded for the Chiefs when his side was narrowly trailing 26-23. The Crusaders scored the next three tries to win 45-23.
The Jaguars lost Bautista Delguy to a yellow card in the 33rd minute against the Lions. Two tries later and the Lions from behind surge ahead and prevail comfortably.
Without arguing the validity of each of those cards do rugby fans really accept the card system is working?
In the pursuit of greater safety, a sentiment no sensible person opposes, the number of cards has increased hugely to the point where it’s inevitable a card will happen. There was an average of one a match in Super Rugby last year. In many instances, like four this past weekend, it’s likely to decide the winner of the match.
What alternatives to prolific carding could help keep the game safe and fair?
Who do you want deciding games players or cards?