The world of rugby will introduce a new rule which is already the subject of much controversy.

Sport doesn’t like consistency. Sport likes to change the rules all the time, even when things are working. Sometimes this improves the understanding of spectators or those involved in the discipline, but it can also give the exact opposite of the desired effect.

A few weeks ago, World Rugby discussed the new guidelines and some innovations in the oval rules coming for the next season. The goal: “to modernize the game” and make it more attractive. Among these new rules, the organization that manages rugby at the global level has pulled the 20-minute red card out of its hat. The principle: in the event of a major foul, a player is sent off but can be replaced after 20 minutes by one of his teammates, allowing his team to continue at 15.

Making a sport more attractive by replacing a player sent off for a serious mistake: we had to find this idea, rugby did it. A red card is supposed to punish in the most severe way a wrongdoing which taints the game. In rugby, a red card is often awarded for an unfair play or for a dangerous tackle… How to cancel this sanction after 20 minutes can give back momentum in a match? Wouldn’t this, conversely, leave players with a half-open door for faults that very often cause in this sport an incalculable number of concussions, a real scourge of rugby? For World Rugby, the idea is not to overly penalize a team which sees one of its players sent off very quickly in the match, thus ensuring the continuity of the spectacle and avoiding displays that are too quickly unbalanced.

This is one of the principles of sport that is in question here. Instead of being penalized because of a fault, however individual it may be, a team will have the opportunity to be at the same level as its rival who has remained within the rules? Great example of fairness. For Nigel Owens, a former international referee, we must manage to maintain a certain amount of gumption and make players and teams understand that a red card is synonymous with a real sanction. “If you come diving into a ruck, shoulder forward, directly at a player’s head, then you must be sent off with no possibility of being replaced after 20 minutes (…). If you remember the tackles turned over or tackles in the air, a few years ago the referees cracked down, the players were excluded, and we hardly see these gestures anymore because there were suspensions which changed the behavior of the players. players”, believes this important voice of arbitration.

World rugby is still considering reinforcing off-field sanctions, alongside this new rule… For information purposes and for those who are unaware, this evolution of the regulations has already been tested on a professional scale, in 2022, as part of Super Rugby (the championship between Australian and New Zealand franchises). A championship which is often a precursor.