The third rugby test against the French tonight, and surely this time we can have a game without players being needlessly sent from the field

As a "product", rugby has enough competition as it is, from the wide range of other entertainment options on offer these days. So to ruin a game so emphatically as occurred last week, is a massive disappointment.

Even I, as a lifelong rugby fan, was that gutted by the sending off that I just couldn't bear to watch (and listen) to the game any more – so I was switching channels and tuning into some other sporting entertainment.

The game started well after the disappointment of the first test's game-changing yellow card.


The French started brilliantly, the intelligent Morgan Parra (the Cameron Smith doppelganger) dictating play, with two well-constructed line breaks on the back of great 15-man team efforts.

Yes, they were playing with passion and control; it was shaping up to be a genuinely exciting match where the All Blacks are seriously challenged.

They were unlucky not to score an early try, with a fumble over the line, but continued to press.

First five Anthony Belleau executes a perfect cross field bomb, and fullback Benjamin Fall timed his run as planned, eyes on ball the whole time and about to catch the ball, only to have Beauden Barrett in the last 0.16 sec leap up to catch it, and unfortunately take a nasty tumble himself.

Sadly, after a prolonged and painful referee group discussion, the inevitably frustrating decision was made, and the dumbfounded Fall was sent from the field, and with him, any hopes of a great All Black-French test.

What was equally painful was the commentators saying the ref made the right call, and that he had no option. You have to be kidding me, no option?

Perhaps the commentators have to protect the image of their product and the golden goose that feeds them.

To say the ref has no choice is madness. If that is true, then the referee association's system is broke.

If he has no choice, then we may as well have a robot out there, making decisions via its computer programmed algorithms, eg, if A + S + X = Y, then it is a red card, I have no choice (in a voice like Arnie Schwarzenegger).

There was definitely nothing nasty in Fall's chase and attempted regather, and arguably not even reckless – as Mils Muliaina later said, we can't eliminate the contest, we can't have chasers just standing off letting the fullbacks catch unabated – and that thinking seemed to be endorsed by World Rugby, who later overturned the red card decision.

To try and document in the rules every potential scenario that could unfold, in a contest involving such an array of complex situations, with 30 individuals competing at full-on physical intensity is just impossible.

Perhaps the rules need to be less detailed. Let's just identify good quality referees, give them a simpler set of rules to work within, and back the good people with the whistle to make more instinctive decisions depending on the scenario (something a robot cannot do).

Good luck to the referee tonight, no pressure, and here's hoping the French can lift again once more, and we can get some great rugby tonight.

On another note, a pretty good start to the 2018 Fifa World Cup – it is always great to see such a diverse range of countries coming together.

A chance for football to make some positive inroads after its own negative news this week, and perhaps it can attract some more Kiwi talent to its sport on the back of this world cup, but let's see how the rest of the tournament unfolds.

• Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and is also a lecturer in sports science at EIT.