Why Koroibete circus is doomed to repeat

Sanity has prevailed.

Marika Koroibete is free to play in next month’s Bledisloe Cup opener and karma bit France captain Anthony Jelonch’s gamesmanship as the Wallabies lifted the trophy at the end of a crazy night.

But while rugby fans breathed a hefty sigh of relief as Koroibete’s red card was expunged, the whole shemozzle raises more questions than answers.

Most sane folk applaud World Rugby’s efforts to protect the players and stamp out foul play but the actions of the game’s officials are still fluctuating wildly.

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A significant split has emerged between the northern and southern hemispheres with the whistleblowers of the north currently taking a harsher stance on borderline calls.

Dave Rennie has already voiced his dismay that Super Rugby’s sensible 20 minute red card rule wasn’t carried over into the Test arena.

And where that mythical ‘line’ lies between great hit and card is somehow proving harder to define than cricket’s great ‘banter’ versus sledging debate.

The controversial calls and card tricks aren’t going away as officials grapple with a chunky rule book while simultaneously trying to to please the fans and their box ticking bosses.

“This is what kills me about how that unfolded the other night,” said Sean Maloney, who called the dramatic Test series for Nine and Stan Sport.

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“Marika’s shoulder level is below the French captain’s… We’ve got those three guys (referees) coming together in the middle and they still get it so wrong – as proven in the aftermath – blows my mind.

“What really got a lot of people upset the other night was the persuasion from the assistant refs. Ben O’Keeffe was seemingly dealt the cards that he had to play by the guys around him, upstairs and around him.

“(Brendon) Pickerill was so on top of that, so pushing that (red card) angle – he’s (O’Keeffe) got to play the ones he’s been given by his team, and he did. So it was tough and it didn’t help that the captain went down, (Anthony) Jelonch, and the way he did it with the grabbing of the face.”

Former Wallabies hardman Justin Harrison also weighed in on the discussion on the latest edition of Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.

Harrison is the chief executive of Australia’s rugby players association and stressed the need to find the correct balance.

“Let’s remember the strategy around player safety,” Harrison said.

“The strategy is correct, the implementation of the mitigating factors and the process, decision matrix, was applied incorrectly. And we know that the strategy is working.

“There has been a vast reduction in head high incidents, a vast reduction in concussion-related tackle incidents, but that is a coachable technique as well.

“You need to maintain a severe sanction – or the threat of a severe sanction, because coaches will start to apply different tackle technique.

“Training, that is a set-piece manoeuvre off a kick-off, Marika can control his entry level although Jelonch definitely dips. All those sorts of things are why we haven’t seen the continuation of the red card.”

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