RFU referee boss issues statement on Karl Dickson-Danny Care controversy

Jared Wright
Referee Karl Dickson and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care during the Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium.

Referee Karl Dickson and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care during the Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium.

RFU head of professional game match officials Paul Hull has released a statement explaining why referee Karl Dickson did not issue a second yellow card to Danny Care on Saturday.

The clash between Harlequins and Northampton Saints on Saturday was marred by controversy, with onlookers taking issue with Dickson failing to give Care his marching orders.

The scrum-half was sent to the sin bin in the first half for a high tackle on Courtney Lawes before conceding a penalty in the second half when Dickson looked to reach for a card before changing his mind.

RFU match officials’ boss responds

Much of the controversy has been centred around Dickson being a former Harlequins player and teammate of Care.

Referee slammed as Danny Care avoids a red card from ‘old teammate’

While many believed that the second penalty against Care was for diving on the ball, Hull has clarified that it was instead for a push on Saints’ back James Ramm and provided TNT Sports with a statement.

Addressing the push off the ball on Ramm from Care, Hull explained with the following bullet points:

  • Ramm overran potential ruck, running an offload line. If a ruck had been formed, he’d have entered from the side.
  • Dickson assessed the situation, lack of potential offload from Augustus. Deemed a penalty kick was sufficient.

Hull added on the tackle on Mitchell:

  • No ruck formed, only a tackle. Care comes into the tackle only space while onside.
  • Mitchell is in possession of the ball, Dickson confirms this with the TMO.
  • Nothing illegal with this action/incident.

Finally, addressing Dickson initially going to his pocket, Hull concluded:

  • Dickson initially thought that ruck had been formed and Care had cynically played the 9 while off feet.
  • Had a doubt it was tackle only so removed his hand from his pocket to fully assess the situation.
  • Once all the information gathered, he deemed PK only for Care for the push on Ramm.

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Coaches’ reaction

Following the incident, Harlequins replaced Care with Will Porter, coming onto the pitch to score two crucial tries in the 41-32 victory.

Speaking after the match, Northampton boss Phil Dowson was asked for his comments on the decision not to issue a second yellow card.

“There was a lot going on in that break of play. Karl and the TMO have had a good look at (it) and they’ve deemed that Care pushing James Ramm and diving on the ball wasn’t a yellow-card offence,” he said.

“They had a lot of yellow cards and we didn’t capitalise and that was fundamentally the difference. When we did get opportunities, there’s three or four times we’re on their line and we either dropped the ball or didn’t convert.

“So we left points out there, we didn’t convert chances, particularly in the first half, and when they had chances, they were very, very clinical. There will be a lot to take from it.”

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