SUPER 15 REFEREES will need a third pocket on their person this season after the introduction of the white card.
Officials who suspect foul play but cannot identify the culprit for sure can now brandish the card to keep the game moving while alerting a citing commissioner to scan the replays.
A suspected player will be put ‘on report’ and the match will continue until a clear answer on the incident is conveyed to the referee.
The move has been agreed on by administrators, coaches and club from the SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) body ahead of the new season, which gets underway on Friday week.
The white card will nestle alongside the traditional red card, which means a players’ immediate expulsion from a game. A flash of yellow from the referee now means 10 minutes in the sin-bin for offending rugby players.
SANZAR boss Greg Peters explained that the white card will offer ‘greater consistency’ to decisions made by match officials.
The card is available to a referee when he thinks something may have happened but hasn’t been able to get a good look at what might have happened or who may have done it.
It is hoped that the move will aid the flow of the game and that on-field whistle-blowers can focus their attentions on the breakdown and tackling in the fringe.
Referees have been charged with increasing concentration on the breakdown and will crack down on the tackler that do not promptly release his victim.
All Black and Crusaders captain Richie McCaw, a player who revels in the feral arts of the breakdown, has welcomed the changes for the 2012 season.
“Get the tackler out of the way,” he said. “That has made a hell of a difference in the last couple of years so they are obviously going to be pretty strict on that from the start so that is pretty critical from the start rather than try and bring it in halfway through.”