The only blot on a fine Currie Cup contest between the Bulls and the Sharks in Durban on Saturday was a pair of first-half yellow cards dished out to players from either side, but the head coaches have given referee Marius van der Westhuizen the all-clear for his handling of the incidents.
Sharks and Bulls stunted by yellow cards
Sharks centre Marius Louw was committed to a tackle by the time the whistle blew to confirm Morne Steyn’s mark and his attempt to pull out was arguably what caused the clash of heads he suffered with the Bulls flyhalf.
Louw ended up running upright into Steyn and their heads made contact although it appeared that the force of the onrushing Sharks man winded the flyhalf, who was cleared to continue and played the full 80 minutes.
The Sharks man was bemused by the TMO call, the Sharks weren’t really punished though as five minutes later Jacques van Rooyen went in upright and clashed heads with Sharks flank Henco Venter and he too collected a yellow card.
‘Maybe we should play touchies’
Both decisions were strict letter of the law calls, and neither coach was really in a position to refute the calls but Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen summed it up best when he asked referee van der Westhuizen if they “should play touchies”.
The Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White saw his side beaten by the narrowest of margins to suffer their first defeat since week two of Super Rugby Unlocked.
White said he had not been able to review the incidents die to the stadium being hit by a bout of loadshedding. He said that he could understand referees being strict around contact to the head and neck.
“It’s not for me to say whether it was right or wrong,” said White.
“It was a bit difficult [to judge] without a big screen and to get that detail because we also had a power cut.
“We didn’t even get to see it [again] on our laptops.
“The referee and the TMO saw a view and I think we need to make sure we look after the players.
“At the end of the day you read a lot of stuff in the media about head injuries and concussions.
“I’m sure that’s the brief from World Rugby. At the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we stick to the rules.
“I’m sure that’s going to be more difficult as rugby union develops. There’s a lot of talk about head injuries and concussions.”
Yellow cards unfortunate
Sharks coach Sean Everitt appeared satisfied that the calls evened each other out with a 32-29 victory softening the blow.
“The yellow cards were unfortunate but I think they were the right decision,” said Everitt.
“We reviewed it, as did the TMO, and we felt that both of them were fair. I don’t think there was any harm in the tackles.
“Thank goodness sanity prevailed and they remained [just] yellow cards so the game could go on as a fair contest.”