Ref Review: USA’s Two Red Cards vs Italy

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The Ref

Cody Kuxmann is a Referee at the London Society Of Rugby Football Union Referees, while studying International Relations at Richmond, The American International University in London. He lives in Richmond Upon Thames but hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
HOUSTON, TX – If you watched the match from an American’s point of view it what a great first half, with enjoyable rugby throughout and considering the opponent was a fairly good Italian team, Team USA did very well.  The improvement since the first game against Canada was clearly evident;  the Eagles are starting to play as a team.

The second half was where things got interesting – from a referee’s perspective – and problematic for the Americans…  Two red cards.

Before we continue, take a look at the match’s highlights here:

Andrew Sunlula’s Hit:  No doubt in any ones mind that a card was about to come.  When looking at these hits, let’s set a standard early. There are three obvious questions to be answered:

1) When was the hit?
2) Was there a wrap?
3) Where on the body was the hit?

The answers determine what color card will come.  Looking at Andrew Suniula’s hit, it was late and on a kicker.  The fact that it was the kicker is important because the player is in a defenseless position.  Criteria 1 is satisfied.  Next up, was there a wrap? No. You see the arms come after the shoulder makes contact – the second aspect just fuels the first.  Criteria 2 is satisfied. Finally, the hit was mid-field with very little in terms of prior incidents.  The hit wasn’t overly high but it was not by any means clean.  For that, I’d say there was no other option than to red card Sunlula. Criteria 3 is satisfied.

Paul Emerick’s Hit: Before we continue, let me just say that Paul Emerick is one of the most genuine players that you will ever meet. Unfortunately, he does have a previous record of infractions:

Now on to the tackle itself. Remember there already was one red card issued, so there were priors within this match.  Let’s take a look again within the criteria. 1) The hit was not late – Emerick was committed before the ball was thrown away, so in terms of timing there is very little wrong. Criteria 1 is not satisfied2) Was there a wrap? With one arm – yes. There was not, however, any attempt to wrap with his leading arm. Criteria 2 is satisfied. 3) The hit was slightly high. Criteria 3 is satisfied. This is where match history and a player’s previous record can come into play. If this would have been the first incident, Paul may only have received a yellow card.  However, with the prior incident I understand how a red card is possible.  It may be a bit harsh, but it was understandable with how the match was playing out.

All things considered, though, this American team is starting to look just like that – a team. Unfortunately, this was only a three=-game test series.

Please feel free to offer your thoughts below and take a gander at some of our other columns and our video page. Thank you.


About Cody Kuxmann 60 Articles
Cody Kuxmann is a Referee at London Society Of Rugby Football Union deciple... When not sending innocents to the Sin Bin, The American International University in London grad splits time between England and... Green Bay, WI! And like all referees, is Blind, Deaf and Dumb.