ANOTHER weekend, another bout of moaning about red cards spoiling matches in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. World Rugby are so concerned at the backlash from coaches and some – emphasise some - fans that they are trialling the concept of the ’20 minute’ red card so that when somebody is sent off, a substitute can come on in their place after 20 minutes.

All that will do is add farce to confusion, and there’s plenty of that around at the moment. I am sorry to have to say this, but all the stuff about ‘unnecessary’ red cards is just so much hogwash and tommyrot.

The referees are only doing their job as instructed by World Rugby to crack down on dangerous play, and thank goodness that we have VAR for top flight rugby and are able to catch the foul miscreants who think they can get away with thuggery – Scottish football, with its fair share of cluggers, you have been warned.         

The most controversial incident in Britain at the weekend was undoubtedly Wayne Barnes refusing to send off Leicester’s second row forward Calum Green for a clear high and dangerous tackle on Joe Marler of Harlequins.

In this tense top-of-the-table clash, Barnes calmly used VAR and spotted that Alex Dombrandt had pushed his colleague Marler forward into Green.

Here’s what Barnes said on his ref mike: “Obviously you can’t push people into contact. (Dombrandt) accelerates that. That’s the offence, isn’t it? It’s a high tackle but that’s all caused by Dombrandt. Dombrandt accelerates Marler into the contact which means Green has no chance to do anything. That’s a penalty against Dombrandt, isn’t it?”

That’s great use of VAR and the correct decision by Barnes but not handing out a red card got him as much criticism on social media as those refs who did dole out red cards. Sometimes the man in the middle just can’t win.

There has been a spate of red cards in the Super Rugby Pacific championship. Last weekend Crusaders captain Scott Barrett was red carded and banned for four games after a high tackle while Josh Dickson of Highlanders got a three game ban for his red card offence.

How about this for cynicism: Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot commented: "I suppose it's just the way the rules are. Super's probably getting a wee bit soft on the red cards. If you slow every tackle down, they all look like head knocks. It's just the way the rules are, it's unlucky if you get found out.”

What nonsense. Here’s me trying to prove that props have brains and de Groot comes along and spoils my pitch. His own Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody showed rather more intelligence: "I understand why it's happening, we've got to protect the players' heads.  It's obviously a big part of the game, and technically, he (Dickson) obviously got it a bit wrong. If that's the precedent that's been set out, we understand why."

That was brave of Dermody and so very accurate. So many red and yellow cards get dished out because of poor tackling technique, and in a sport now played by behemoths, there is real danger when players don’t tackle correctly.

Rugby’s dirty big secret is the forthcoming court case, or cases, over brain damage to players. World Rugby is frankly in a fankle over this and that’s why in recent years they have cracked down on players tackling high and especially dishing out punishment to the head. So why this '20 minute red' backdown in a campaign of which the vast majority of rugby supporters approve?

I say to World Rugby, forget the 20 minute card, because if a player is guilty of deliberate or reckless dangerous play, that player must be out of the game and banned.  It’s tough on  his colleagues, but hey, this is a team sport and if you let down yourself then your mates must suffer, too.    

Too often we see players pushing the laws to the limit and more, and worse still, trying to con referees. The only solution, in my view, is much greater education at all levels of the game, and for coaches and referees to work together to tell players what is acceptable and not.   

My old rugby writing chum Gregor Paul is now one of New Zealand’s most respected rugby writers, and he nailed the issue in a column earlier this week: “Players have always felt it’s their job to push the limits and test the boundaries and get away with what they can.

“But perhaps that's a concept which has done its time and can't be justified in this age of winning fans and selling the sport in such a crowded entertainment market.

“And above all else they must accept that the more they try to play within the rules, the less likely it is that outcomes will be affected by refereeing error.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Gregor.