- Sharks coach Sean Everitt and Bulls coach Jake White had no qualms with the “clash of heads” yellow cards shown to their players during Saturdayâ€™s game.
- Sharks centre Marius Louw and Bulls prop Jacques van Rooyen were yellow-carded for dangerous tackles.
- White said concussion and head injuries were big talking points in sport of late, emphasising the safety of players.
Following two similar and highly debatable “clash of heads” refereeing decisions against both teams, neither Sharks coach Sean Everitt nor Bulls coach Jake White had any qualms with the calls after the game.
The Sharks won a tight Currie Cup clash 32-29 at Kings Park on Saturday that had some eyebrow-raising decisions by referee Marius van der Westerhuizen and TMO Marius Jonker.
AS IT HAPPENED Sharks 32-29 Bulls
The first came when Sharks centre Marius Louw barged into Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn rather late, after he had called a mark inside his own 22m area.
Louwâ€™s head brushed against Steynâ€™s and the contact was enough to warrant the Bulls pivot to be attended to by the medical staff.
Louw was subsequently yellow-carded as a result of the TMO review, despite the quizzical look he portrayed when the call was made.
Five minutes after Louw went to the sin bin, Bulls loose-head prop Jacques van Rooyen suffered the same fate when his tackle on Sharks flank Henco Venter resulted in the two clashing heads â€“ in what looked to be an accidental clash to the laymanâ€™s eye.
However, Van der Westerhuizen and Jonker also deemed the incident worthy of a yellow card for the Bulls front rower.
“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 donâ€™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.”
Van Rooyen was banned for a week earlier this month after he was red-carded in the Bulls’ 22-20 win over Western Province, in a decision that also caused hot debate.
The latest incident also prompted Bulls skipper Duane Vermeulen to chirp Van der Westerhuizen, saying “maybe we should play touchies”. It was a half-tongue-in-cheek, half-serious quip about the softness of the calls.
Vermeulenâ€™s coach, however, said there could be a more serious element to it, that of concussion and head injuries, which has been a bone of contention in rugby as well as football of late.
“Itâ€™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 didnâ€™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.
“Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s the brief from World Rugby. At the end of the day, weâ€™ve got to make sure we stick to the rules.
“Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s going to be more difficult as rugby union develops. Thereâ€™s a lot of talk about head injuries and concussions.”