Nine yellow cards were issued during a senior club rugby match in North Otago on Saturday, but both coaches insist it was not a dirty game.

New laws around high tackles were an issue in the number of players stood down by referee Blair Malcolm during the game.

At one stage, Valley had 12 players on the field and Excelsior had 13.

Four Valley players were yellow-carded and five from Excelsior.

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One Excelsior player was shown two yellow cards, which led to him being ordered off the field for good.

Valley coach Mike Mavor said despite all the cards it was not a dirty game.

''It was just the interpretations around high tackles.

''You couldn't blame the ref. That it what has been decided and he has to follow the law,'' he said.

World Rugby has introduced new laws to clamp down on high tackles this season, with stiffer penalties and less leeway.

Mavor said six of the cards were for high tackles and players needed to brush up on their techniques.

''Players from both teams got on well on the field. It was fine. But guys are just going to have to improve their tackling.''

Excelsior coach Dan Keno said the benchmark for high tackles was set early in the game, and it was not a dirty match.

''As long as this is the benchmark for the rest of the season then that is fine,'' he said.

''Some players have different interpretations of high tackles than what the ref does.''

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson declined to comment when contacted yesterday, as he knew nothing about the incidents.

The players must have learnt from the yellow cards because after picking up six in the first half, only three were shown by the referee in the second 40 minutes.

For the record, Excelsior won a tight match, 39-32.