If rugby does ever decide to refine its law book, it can't be at the expense of having a red card option to punish those who commit clear and obvious foul play.

That's the view of All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster who said he wasn't particularly surprised by the judiciary panel's decision to quash the red card that was shown to French fullback Benjamin in Wellington, but wouldn't be in favour of seeing the red card eradicated from rugby.

"Everyone has got an opinion because it is such a complex game isn't it," said Foster.

"Personally, I think everyone wants 15 on 15 as much as we can. It is a full contact sport so I would support a sending off from the perspective of player safety.


"In that it becomes a preventative thing for players who do want to do something intentionally.

"I have got no qualms with the red card if people lose their discipline. Maybe we could just introduce a few more categories as it is pretty narrow. Dangerous and reckless seems to cover everything and I think we all agree that what happened last week, that while it was dangerous, it lacked intention."

And this message imploring a revamp of the laws to differentiate between accidents and intentional foul play is gathering pace.

Foster's views echo those of All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen who has been banging this drum since there was an outcry – a near witch hunt – after New Zealand beat Ireland in November 2016.

After that test, the Irish were outraged that Sam Cane was only yellow carded for a collision with second-five Robbie Henshaw.

Benjamin Fall is given a red card. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Benjamin Fall is given a red card. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

The Irishman was knocked out by the impact of Cane's head and shoulder, but the collision was deemed by the citing commissioner to have been unavoidable and therefore he backed the yellow card only decision.

But in that same game Malakai Fekitoa was only yellow carded for what appeared to be a reckless high tackle on Simon Zebo. The same citing commissioner ruled after the game that referee Jaco Peyper should have shown the red.

What that game in Ireland showed is that it is a near impossible business for a referee to make accurate, subjective assessments on the spot and correctly apply the law.

That has been shown to be the case again in the last two weeks where the respective referees in this June series have done their best to make the right call, but were found to be wanting when their judgements have been assessed by judicial panels.

"I am not surprised," said Foster. "The game is full of situations where refs make a call and the judiciary's job is to assess that decision.

"Most times there is clear alignment between the decisions made on the park and those taken off the park and occasionally the role of the judiciary is to spend more time, analyse it and sit in judgement I guess."

Foster's point about player welfare was emphasised by All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams.

Most players can accept and reconcile incidents where they feel they have been the victims of unintentional consequences.

They accept that there will be occasions when bad lack plays a role and that there will be others when they are subjected to reckless and intentional actions.

For Williams, the most important thing is that the law provides players with certainty they will be looked after.

"We spoke about it before… we, and I'm sure if I asked you guys what you thought of it, you, would all have different opinions of it," said Williams. "The main thing is player safety."

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