‘Rank thuggery’ – England lock slammed after history making red card that rules him out of All Blacks series

Jared Wright
Charlie Ewels' clearout on Michael Lietch. (screengrabs via RugbyPass TV)

Charlie Ewels is now set to miss the series against the All Blacks.

England lock Charlie Ewels became the first player ever to be red-carded in consecutive Test matches after he was given his marching orders against Japan.

The Bath second-row is set to miss the upcoming internationals against the All Blacks through suspension after his dangerous clear-out on Michael Leitch brought his cameo off the bench to a swift end.

The 28-year-old made his return to the England jersey when he came off the bench against the Brave Blossoms in the 66th minute, earning his first cap since his red card against Ireland during the 2022 Six Nations.

Red card versus Japan

With England on the attack in the 73rd minute, Ewels got his clear-out at the breakdown all wrong as he came in from the side and hammered his shoulder into Leitch’s knee, taking the Japan captain to the ground.

The action of clearing out a player in such a manner – the lower-limb – was specifically addressed in a welfare driven law update last year.

“A player may lever the jackler out of the contest at the ruck but must not drop their weight onto them or target the lower limbs,” the update read.

A similar incident occurred in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, when All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell was yellow-carded for his clear-out on Bongi Mbonambi, with the former’s actions ending the latter’s game.

This time around, French referee Luc Ramos issued a yellow card for Ewels with the TMO bunker upgrading the decision to a red upon review.

Like in the case of Mbonambi and a similar incident in the 2022 Rugby Championship which resulted in a red card for Darcy Swain, Leitch could well have been seriously injured by the clear-out, as highlighted by commentator David Flatman.

“Whoever your God is, you have got to thank your God that Michael Leitch lifted his foot up and got his studs out of the ground,” Flatman said.

“If those studs are trapped in the ground then we are potentially having a far more ghastly conversation.”

Ewels’ back-to-back red cards means that he has been given his marching orders twice in just 10 minutes and 32 seconds of his last two Test matches.

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Social media reaction

“Charlie Ewels almost ended the career of one of the world greats with that braindead clearout. What a way to end your own time in international rugby,” one fan wrote in reaction to the incident on social media.

Squidge Rugby reacted with a rather interesting stat: “Charlie Ewels is the 11th player to receive multiple red cards in test rugby, but the first to ever do it in consecutive tests. Tomos Lavinini’s eyes just lit up with opportunity and envy.”

Another added: “Really sad for Charlie Ewels who has been immense for Bath. Just seems to be way too pumped when he’s in an England shirt…”

There were also those who slammed the second-row: “That tackle from Charlie Ewels was absolutely disgraceful. He was lucky he got a red. Rank thuggery.”

“That should be a red. Brainless. Off feet, in at the side, straight into Leitch’s knee. Reckless at best, filthy at worst. Hope Leitch is ok,” another comment read.

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