Referee blunders are ruining the game of rugby says All Blacks and Hurricanes first-five Beauden Barrett.

Ben O'Keeffe was officiating the Reds-Sunwolves match last night when he gave Sunwolves flanker Ed Quirk a red card following an incident in a ruck.

Quirk lightly brushed the face of Hamish Stewart with a closed fist while the pair were at the bottom of a ruck in the 37th minute.

"It was a joke in my opinion," Barrett told Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB.


"They've (the referees) got to use common sense and there was certainly no force in that.

"Where's the game going when we award red cards for little things like that?"

Beauden Barrett has been on the receiving end of 'grey area' tackles himself. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett has been on the receiving end of 'grey area' tackles himself. Photo / Getty Images

The decision from O'Keeffe further reiterates worries from coaches, players and fans about the direction professional rugby union is heading.

However, O'Keeffe is ruling the game the way he has been instructed to, with World Rugby law 10.4 stating that players must not strike an opponent.

That could be with a fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee. Players are also not allowed to stamp, trample, kick or trip an opponent either.

Regardless of the strength and power of the contact Quirk made, by the letter of the law, there was nothing else O'Keeffe could have done.

On the flip side, Chiefs midfielder Johnny Fa'auli's red card against the Hurricanes last night was more clear cut.

Fa'auli was sent off during the second half in Hamilton for a dangerous tackle on Wes Goosen.

The high, no-arms shot on Goosen fired up Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd who called it "deliberate" and Barrett agreed that it didn't look good.

"It was pretty reckless … it's a shame because Goose might be out for a few weeks, he was pretty sore after that," Barrett said.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has previously shared his views on how the game is being officiated, stating that common sense needs to prevail.

Hansen says the referees aren't to blame and that they're just doing their job, but World Rugby's laws need to change to allow a more common sense approach.

"It's become plainly obvious for everyone to see now. Nothing's changed in a year - that is a fact. Something will change in the next few weeks," Hansen said.

"It's a birds nest and it'll take a bit of tidying."

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