How long is a red card suspension in rugby?

In Rugby red cards are the exact opposite of what a player wants. Not only does it mean that a player can’t play any further part in that game, but it also usually comes with an additional suspension. 

How long is a red card suspension in rugby? Rugby Red card bans tend to be between 2 and 12 weeks. The length of a red card suspension depends on what the red card is for, whether there was the mitigation and the player’s previous disciplinary record.

The exact length of a red card suspension varies massively on quite a few different things. In general, we see most red card suspensions be between 2 and 12 weeks. There are quite a few different things that determine how long a red card suspension is. On average what we see is red cards be around 2 to 12 weeks. 

The majority of red cards tend to be around 4 weeks but there are a huge number of factors that affect how long a red card suspension is. 

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What affects the length of a red card suspension in rugby? 

There are a number of different things that affect how long a red card suspension will be in rugby. 

The incident itself 

The main thing that affects how long the suspension lasts for is what the cause of the red card actually was. Two yellow cards for cynical play or repeated offences usually bring the shortest penalties because these are not considered dangerous. What you will see instead is the more dangerous a red card offence, the longer the suspension. 

High tackles are very often the cause of red cards and these can carry a high level of danger. The level of danger is about whether the player who receives the red card puts the other player in a lot of danger. This is usually around the amount of force through the head of the other player. 

It can also be about whether the incident was malicious or not. Something like a punch or a headbutt will usually bring a longer suspension because it is malicious as you are trying to hurt the opposition player. A red card for something that has nothing to do with rugby will often bring a longer suspension. 

Foul play will bring a lot longer of a punishment, with some acts that are highly dangerous clearly not being on purpose. You see things like taking a player out in the air or high tackles tend to be lesser punishments than punches or gouges because they are not on purpose. So the length of a suspension varies massively depending on what the offence was. 

Players disciplinary history 

The board that decides on the length of a red card suspension will often take into account whether the player has got a good disciplinary record. If it is a player’s first red card or first suspension, they are likely to get a shorter suspension for a good record. 

Whereas, players who are repeat offenders will likely be given a larger punishmnt. This is to try and stop them from getting sent off in the future. Red card suspensions are also supposed to be deterrents for getting a red card, so if a player has multiple red cards then it is likely that the suspensions have not worked. 

Mitigating factors 

High tackles are a very common cause of red cards. The suspension from these red cards can have their length reduced if players attend tackle school. This is essentially a course given to players who have received a red card to make sure they are reminded of safe tackle technique and try to reduce the likelihood of them committing more high tackles.

The rugby boards will often reduce the length of a red card suspension by one week if the player agrees to go to tackle school. It is part of the process that gets a lot of criticism because professional rugby players should not be needing to be reminded how to tackle. It is often seen as a way that rugby boards can reduce suspensions to get their international players on the field quicker.

Is a red card in rugby an automatic ban? 

A red card in rugby will usually be a ban. But that does not mean it is an automatic ban. After a red card is given, a disciplinary committee will usually review the incident that caused the red card the days after the game.

The first thing they will do is decide whether the offence is actually a red card and whether the card was correctly given. What you can sometimes see is a disciplinary committee rescinding a red card. While this has no effect on the game it was given out in because it has already been played, it does mean the player will not be banned.

A ban is only given to the player if the committee feels like the red card was deserved. So it means a red card is not automatically given as not every red card given out is the right decision. If the committee feels that the red card was deserved, then there is an automatic ban.

Rugby red card 20 minutes

There is a new red card rule which we see around the world at the moment. It is a very controversial new rule and people’s opinions tend to be pretty split on the rule.

The 20-minute red card rule is that when a player is red-carded, they are sent off like a normal red card. However, their team does not have to play with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Instead, after 20 minutes, another player can come onto the field to replace the player who has been red-carded.

The player who was red-carded is not allowed back on the field, the same as the normal red card rule. But the 20-minute rule allows someone else to come in their place after 20 minutes. It lessens the impact of a red card on the game. It is currently being used in Super Rugby.

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