English refs under fire over tip-tackles
The International Rugby Board's disciplinary procedure and two of England's top referees could be under nearly as much scrutiny as Bradley Davies and Stephen Ferris in London this afternoon when a Six Nations committee deals with the controversial issue of tip-tackling.
While everybody anticipated that Davies would be cited, few expected Ferris to be joining him, although both received yellow cards in Sunday's encounter between Ireland and Wales.
According to the IRB's directives -- and indeed the verbal report from assistant referee Dave Pearson -- Davies' lifting and dumping head-first of Donnacha Ryan was even more culpable than a so-called tip-tackle and had to be an automatic red card.
By the same guidelines, there is considerable doubt whether Ferris' tackle on Ian Evans warranted even a yellow card, let alone a citing.
Law 10.4(j) reads: "Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play."
The IRB says there are only three options open to the referee in this area.
First, if the player is lifted and then forced or 'speared' into the ground it is a red card. Second, if the player is lifted and dropped to the ground from a height with no regard for the player's safety it must also be a red card. And finally, "for all other types of dangerous lifting tackles, a yellow card or penalty may be considered sufficient."
In the case of Davies, the officials involved -- referee Wayne Barnes and England colleague Pearson -- could also be rebuked as they failed to carry out the IRB's protocols. Pearson told Barnes that Davies had "lifted the player off the floor, twisted him past the horizontal and then dropped him".
Despite that, Pearson recommended only a yellow card, advice that Barnes -- having been told that Ryan had been dropped -- should have tested. If Pearson confirmed that Ryan had been dropped, Barnes' only option was to send Davies off. (© Daily Telegraph, London)