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Tackle trial confusion as Reds keep marching

Rugby | Published:

JERSEY REDS players, fans and supporters were left scratching their heads on numerous occasions on Saturday, as the Championship Cup trial for a new tackle law took a confusing turn.

Jersey Reds had to spend a large part of Saturday's Championship Cup fixture without 15 men on the field, following three yellow cards for illegal tackles under the new law being trialled in the competition. Richmond were also penalised a number of times for similar offences, but had no one sin-binned Picture: JON GUEGAN (23209479)

Three Reds players were sin-binned for high tackles during their 43-21 victory over Richmond as the hosts were penalised time and time again, while the Londoners escaped cards despite committing seemingly similar offences.

Further adding to the puzzlement was the fact that Jersey felt they had not changed their approach to the tackle since the first two cup group games, where they were not penalised to the same extent.

The rule being trialled lowers the legal tackle height to the armpit. In previous games it appeared to have been mindfully applied by referees in order to maintain the momentum and competitiveness of the game, and had showed promise. On Saturday, however, it appeared that every hint of a rule breach by the Reds, dangerous or not, was punished by a penalty or worse, leading to a game which didn’t flow for large portions.

One of the Islanders’ bookings went the way of replacement hooker Nick Selway, no more than 30 seconds after he had come onto the field in the 72nd minute.

Reds head coach Harvey Biljon said: ‘It was frustrating and confusing. I think consistency is the key word here – of course players need to adapt to the rule but they also need to understand what is going on and understand the ruling.

‘If I am confused just imagine where the players are.’

This perhaps cast a shadow on what was yet another exciting, high scoring, maximum-point win – something we have come to expect from this talented young side in recent weeks.

Biljon added: ‘As a performance it is positive in the fact that we got five points but I am frustrated because there were a few more opportunities that we left out there. But overall we should be happy that we again took maximum points.

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‘We are in a great place in the competition going forward but we cannot get carried away. There is a lot of learning to come out of today and a lot of hard work that has to go in this week because the next few games are huge. Richmond are going to want to bounce back from today [this Saturday at the Athletic Ground], as will Ealing and then Scottish.

‘There is a lot of rugby still to play in this competition.’

In the other match in Pool 2, Ealing also secured a bonus-point win over London Scottish, finishing 31-19 up away from home.

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