Melbourne Rebels captain Michael Wells says the onus is firmly on players to get their tackling technique right following a spate of recent cards.
Rebels playmaker Matt To’omua was yellow-carded for a tackle-gone-wrong that led to an accidental clash of heads in Friday night’s one-point win over the Western Force.
His teammate Ray Nu’u copped a red card in the 52nd minute for his tackle that resulted in his shoulder clashing into the head of a Force opponent.
The two cards came just two weeks after star Brumbies fullback Tom Banks was red-carded for his attempted tackle that resulted in a head clash with Force flyer Toni Pulu.
Banks suffered a fractured cheekbone in the incident, and a SANZAAR foul play review later deemed there were enough mitigating factors to rescind the red, saying it should have been a yellow instead.
The Rebels overcame the yellow and red cards to hold on for a gutsy 22-21 win in Perth.
Although Wells isn’t a fan of the game being held up for so long while referees review incidents, he said it was important for the players to correct their tackling technique to avoid head-high hits in the future.
“It’s that balancing act. We don’t player welfare to come second, we also want the game to remain a spectacle,” Wells said.
“At the end of the day it is a contact sport, but the onus is on us as players to bring the tackle height down.
“World Rugby has been pretty clear on it. There’s not much discretion for refs. Any (head-high) contact they’re going to have to pull a card out.
“So it’s up to the players to work on the tackle technique.
“If you hit anyone on the head or above the shoulders you’re going to be in trouble.”
To’omua returned to the field to play a crucial part in the win, nailing a clutch penalty in the 68th minute to help the Rebels regain the lead.
It was his second match since controversially being overlooked for a 40-man Wallabies’ training camp.
“I want to credit Matt, because it’s probably the first time Matt’s been left out of the Wallabies squad, and you would never have known at the club,” Rebels coach Kevin Foote said.
“He was still the same Matt, putting the team first. It’s huge. That’s selfless. He’s been incredible. He’s just showing that leadership.
“Even after getting the card, no problem, just gets back out and does a good job.”