LET's get the controversy of the weekend out of the way first. Having been reckless in his attempt to tackle Ireland’s vice-captain James Ryan, Charlie Ewels deserved to be sent off even as early in the game as it happened.

The fact is that he put Ryan out of the game with his head butt, and the more I viewed it the worse it became. The news that Ryan will now have to miss the match against Scotland on Saturday is a sad confirmation of my first thought that the Irishman will probably be out for two or three weeks, yet Ewels could foreseeably just get a ban of a similar length when he goes in front of a disciplinary hearing tonight. Big Jim Hamilton has opined that Ewels should get a ban of six to eight weeks, and judging by recent decisions, that would be about right for what was clearly a very reckless piece of play.

The trouble is that Ewels and, for that matter, Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe, are just the latest casualties in rugby union’s war with itself. Playing for Worcester Warriors, Van der Merwe was sent off for a forearm to the face of fellow Scottish international Kyle Rowe of London Irish. Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said it was ridiculous that van der Merwe was banned for three weeks, but I am sorry that I have to disagree.

For having viewed the incident numerous times, it is very clear that van der Merwe did not carry out a proper hand-off. He caught Rowe in the face with his forearm and that’s a red card under the current interpretation of the laws.

Ewels and van der Merwe are huge men, the latter some 16st 7lbs and 6ft 4ins (1.93m) while Ewels is 6ft 6.5ins (1.99m) and 17st. Nor are they even the biggest players around, and therein lies the problem.

As rugby union has transformed since professionalism arrived in 1995, so the trend has been for bigger and heavier players in almost every position. However, skulls haven't got thicker. In recent years there has been much more focus on head injuries due to the increasing number of cases of concussion, and as everyone in rugby knows, the brown stuff is about to hit the fan with court actions by brain-damaged former players.

World Rugby, with the support of all the unions, has introduced much tougher regulations on dealing with concussion and quite rightly so. And recognising that bigger players mean harder hits to the head, they had no choice but to toughen the laws of the game and outlaw all deliberate or reckless play likely to cause head injuries.

We either go back and de-power the sport – impossible, obviously – or teach every player, professional and amateur, to tackle properly which Ewels and van der Merwe did not. I will deal with the thorny issues of law changes, refereeing inconsistency and VAR usage after the Guinness 6 Nations of 2022 is complete, but in the meantime we must look ahead to Saturday and the final round of matches, featuring Wales v Italy, Ireland v Scotland and the final deciding match, France v England.

Scotland are in a strange position as we could end up third in the table if we beat Ireland and France beat England, or else we could end up fifth if Wales put a cricket score past Italy in Cardiff – wouldn’t it be great to see Alun Wyn Jones get his 150th cap for his country? - and we don’t even get a bonus point in Dublin. I think the latter outcome is more likely as Ireland will be going all out to beat us and put pressure on France to perform in their encounter with England.

On form, Scotland don’t really have a ghost of a chance against Ireland who will also want that coveted Triple Crown even if they can’t get the Grand Slam. If our leading players’ return to form against Italy is maintained then Scotland will at the least run Ireland close, but the likes of Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong and Peter O’Mahony are all vastly experienced and proven winners, and I can’t see Scotland surprising them. I take Ireland to win and then hope France get the Grand Slam they deserve by beating England.

I have said for some time now that Scotland’s biggest match in the next year or so will come at the 2023 World Cup in France when we play Ireland on Saturday, October 7, in the final Pool B match which, given the All Blacks will surely top the pool, will decide who goes through to the play-off stage. Success at the World Cup is the desire of everyone in Scottish rugby, so that’s why I suggest Gregor Townsend and his players use Saturday’s match as a rehearsal for the big one next October.

At the very least we shall discover exactly how we stand in relation to our Pool B rivals. Let’s hope we learn a lot from the encounter in Dublin.