Imagine Rugby Blogs

Is Indiscipline Rising In English Rugby?

With cautions on the increase, are our players losing their cool

Posted May 17, 2011 by Chris White

Tuilagi could miss the Premiership final at Twickenham if he gets a ban

With the number of players being banned in recent weeks, it poses the question – are rugby players in England becoming more indisciplined? In recent weeks, Delon Armitage has been banned for the second time in 2011, and Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi punched Northampton’s Chris Ashton in the face in Sunday’s Premiership Semi-Final clash at Welford Road.

The youngest of the Tuilagi brother’s was given a yellow card for the punch on Ashton, who was also shown yellow in the incident just before half time, was lucky to escape a red card. Ashton pushed the Tigers centre, before Tuilagi lost his cool.

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said, “Chris Ashton did go over and give him a push, but you cannot react with three punches to the head without a red card. It would have had a massive effect on the game, because Leicester would have been down to 14 men. But they played well in the second half - it is fine lines. The referee went over to his assistant for help and still only gave a yellow. All I know is I have seen it, and to me, it is a clear red card.”

London Irish and England winger Delon Armitage was given an 8-week ban for pushing an anti-doping official and using foul/offensive language in a post-match drugs test after the Premiership match between London Irish and Bath on 1 January. Just two matches into his comeback, however, Armitage was cited for punching another Saints’ player, Stephen Myler, and has such been given a 3-week ban. Maybe players just don’t like Northampton?!

This season’s statistics certainly suggest that players are losing their discipline a lot more than previous years. In this season’s Premiership, there have been 103 yellow and 3 red cards shown. In comparison, last season saw referees award 95 yellow and 5 red cards.

But why is this? Maybe it’s a sign that players are under a lot more pressure to perform and succeed, and because they’re so pumped up to win, they lose their tempers. Maybe it’s just a sign of the players in the game today. We could be in an era where players suffer from a lack of discipline.

Either way, the game is going to suffer if teams cannot control their players, and it’s in the best interest of the teams to do so as they’re going to be the ones who have to play periods of games with 14 (or fewer) players.

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