Three yellow cards were dished out for separate incidents in a single stoppage in Saturday night’s Super Rugby Pacific clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland Reds front-rowers Josh Nasser (no-arms tackle), Harry Hoopert (late tackle) and Fijian Drua prop Samuela Tawake (tip tackle) were all dismissed to a suddenly crowded sin bin in the first half of the round-four clash.
Referee Jordan Way was guided by assistants Nic Berry and Reuben Keane and TMO Brett Cronan during a lengthy review process that drew groans from the Nine and Stan Sport commentary box.
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“Never seen it,” a stunned Sean Maloney said.
“Never seen three yellow cards in 30 seconds. Maybe the last time was the Waratahs against the British and Irish Lions off the back of Duncan McRae’s night out (in 2001).”
Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui quipped the officials were “still working out the mathematics of who goes where”, but he had some sympathy for their position.
“Over-arching all of this is they are World Rugby laws and directives that they are obliged to put in place,” Turinui said.
Two-time Rugby World Cup winner Tim Horan said World Rugby was moving proactively to ward off the elephant in the room.
“They’re looking a long way down the track with potential lawsuits,” Horan said.
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“It’s happening in NFL, it’s going to happen in rugby. How far do you go?”
Another Wallabies great, Drew Mitchell, said rugby was shooting itself in the foot.
“I’m empathetic to the referees because, by the letter of the law, by process, they’ve got it right,” Mitchell said.
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“My frustration is more with World Rugby.
“It takes the pulse out of the game and is having too much of an impact.”
The Reds went on to win 33-28 in a thriller as the Drua launched a spirited comeback after trailing four tries to none at one stage.
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