Andrew Saville on spate of Rugby World Cup cards: Players need to learn, but hopefully referees will show ‘common sense’

Don't expect Rugby World Cup referees to relent in their dishing out of cards at this year's tournament in Japan, says 1 NEWS Sport presenter Andrew Saville.

Referees have shown a zero tolerance approach to high or dangerous tackles at this year's World Cup, with a total of 23 cards dished out with one round of the pool stage still to come.

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TJ Ioane earned Manu Samoa's fifth yellow of the tournament so far. Source: Spark Sport RWC

Manu Samoa in particular have been affected by the crackdown on any dangerous play, the most penalised team - having been shown five yellows and one red card from their opening three matches.

The All Blacks haven't been able to escape the strict crackdown either, with props Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Nepo Laulala both sent to the sin bin during last night's 71-9 victory over Namibia in Tokyo. World Rugby have until tomorrow morning NZT to decide on any citation against either front rower.

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Despite the runner falling into Laulala’s arm, contact with the head was made. Source: Spark Sport RWC

Appearing on TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning, Saville broke down exactly why referees are brandishing cards the way they are, showing emphasis on player safety over anything else.

"As we've seen in the last week or two, they're clamping down on anything basically above the chest," Saville said.

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It was a bad day for Facundo Gattas, who was handed a red card in his side’s 33-7 loss to Georgia.

"Let's not forget, it's the game these days played at a great rate of knots, there are split seconds, millisecond decisions. It's a brutal contact sport, and we're going to have issues like this or tackles like this.

"There needs to be some real common sense looking into the playoffs at the World Cup. Hopefully we won't see so many cards and so many issues.

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John Quill's shoulder connected squarely with Farrell's jaw, leaving the ref no choice but to send him packing. Source: Spark Sport RWC

"But the players need to learn once and for all that they can't go above the chest-line."

The red card shown to Argentina's Tomas Lavanini on Saturday night was the fifth red card shown so far this tournament, making 2019 the dirtiest World Cup, beating the four shown in both 1995 and 1999.

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1 NEWS Sport's Andrew Saville broke down the harsh refereeing guidelines on display in Japan. Source: Breakfast