After watching this latest round of Super Rugby, I can't help but feel disheartened by what I would describe as the over-vigilance of condemning physicality from our game.

Following on from Sam Whitelock's two-week suspension for what was a benign incident in my view - a brush against an opponent's face with his elbow against the Cheetahs a fortnight ago - Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo and Bulls lock RG Snyman were shown unnecessary red cards in their match at Loftus Versfeld.

In general, for me, there are two issues involved. The first is that it's a contact game - players are trained and programmed to run hard at each other and there are going to be times when there is often hard physical contact.

That includes the aerial aspect - players contesting high kicks. I feel we're taking the really brutal physicality out of the game, and the second issue is that players are thinking twice about how to react to fast-changing events in front of them and that's not good for game.


They are going into areas of contact without confidence and to a degree afraid because they're worried about cards.

Players are being penalised when the fault is not always theirs. Ball carriers running are slipping just before contact, tacklers subsequently are hitting slightly high but it's now not their fault and players are being penalised or carded.

We've got to be careful here. We've eliminated rucking and many aspects of cleanouts at the breakdown, and we're incredibly stringent on high tackles. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning foul play and am certainly a supporter of getting on top of concussion and serious injuries in the game, but we've got to respect rugby for what it is. It's a physical game about contact and winning possession but, bit by bit, we're eliminating contact from the game.

For me, Naholo was trying to get the ball and he used his shoulder to protect himself from the other player. The Bulls player was hit high but I believe that's just part of game.

Snyman, who was also red carded, tried to clean a Highlanders player out of a ruck when the Bulls were in a try-scoring situation. The Highlander was there illegally trying to slow down the Bulls' ball under his posts. Snyman didn't wrap his arms in the cleanout - he was simply attempting to remove the illegal threat, he got a red card and that probably cost his team the game.

For Whitelock to be suspended despite clearly not making decent contact, and let's face it, he was reacting to foul play on himself, is another indictment. Sorry, I'm happy to continue to look after our players but I think we have gone too far.

On to the Crusaders' victory over the Hurricanes, and it's my view that it may take 10 years before we see the quality of rugby we expected on Saturday night from a top-of-the-table clash in Christchurch.

And that's because the city needs a stadium with a roof to produce what we all desired from this game.

There was plenty of anticipation before this match between two teams in top form, but the dewy conditions dictated terms.

They helped nullify both teams' running games and there is no doubt the Crusaders adapted better.

It was a shame for the game but it opened up other areas. Physically, it was very tough and the conditions suited the Crusaders better even without Whitelock and Kieran Read.

They put pressure on the Canes set piece and the visitors couldn't cope. From the final statistics in terms of possession, territory and line breaks, it was clear the Crusaders were the better team on the night.