England ill-discipline is becoming a

Tom Curry
Tom Curry’s high tackle on Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia was initially punished with a yellow card before being upgraded to a red

Ill-discipline is a “common theme” after Tom Curry became the third England player sent off in four games, says former scrum-half Matt Dawson.

All three red cards have been via the new ‘bunker’ review system.

“It is a common theme, the ill-discipline of England,” said Dawson during Radio 5 Live’s match commentary.

“The presence of mind and that split-decision thinking is missing.”

The 2003 World Cup winner added: “They mean well and are committed, we can’t knock any of that, but give zero risk to the referee.”

Former England wing Chris Ashton, who was also part of 5 Live’s commentary team, believes it is no longer “worth the risk” to tackle high in order to make “the perfect hit”.

Looking at the specifics of Curry’s dismissal, Ashton said: “Because Juan Cruz Mallia is coming down from so high, he has tried to time it perfectly. He is running the risk and it is a fine line these days.

“The game has changed and it is not worth the risk in order to time a perfect hit, when you can just let the player hit the floor and hit him lower.”

Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola were both sent off via the ‘bunker’ system in back-to-back World Cup warm-up matches against Wales and Ireland and missed the Argentina game because of suspension.

Curry’s ‘timing wasn’t quite right’

Curry, who was the first English player to be sent off in a World Cup, is likely to face a similar ban to Vunipola – which was two games – if he completes the World Rugby coaching programme on tackling.

England head coach Steve Borthwick said his side’s discipline was “good” against Argentina aside from Curry’s red card.

“We are working every day on ensuring we have the correct tackle height, that was clearly an incident where a player was landing and the timing wasn’t quite right,” Borthwick said.

“We had that card but finished with seven or eight penalties conceded, so our discipline was good, but we lost a player today.”

England lost three out of their four warm-up games heading into the World Cup, with Borthwick saying his players felt they were written off too early.

Borthwick added: “I’m pleased with many aspects of the performance, particularly clearly the attitude and composure under pressure against a very good Argentina team.”

What is the bunker review system?

The bunker review system was introduced at senior level during rugby’s Summer Nations Series, after World Rugby had used it at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in July.

Curry, who was playing his first game since the Premiership final in May, made a high tackle on Argentina full-back Mallia after just two minutes and 59 seconds but was not initially sent off.

If, after two video replays, the on-field referee is unable to decide if an incident deserves a red card, they have the option to show a yellow card.

That then gives a television match official (TMO) the chance to have a detailed look at the incident in more detail, with all angles available.

The “foul play review officer” (FPRO), situated within the TMO bunker, will have up to eight minutes to review the incident and communicate the decision to the in-play officiating team.

The yellow card can then be upgraded to a red card with the player not returning to the field of play. This helps to avoid players being wrongly shown a red card, as England’s Freddie Steward was in the Six Nations in March.

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