Scotland ‘frustrated’ after Jesse Kriel’s tackle ‘inexcusably’ goes unpunished

Jared Wright
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, Springbok centre Jesse Kriel and Scotland back row Jack Dempsey and England flanker Tom Curry - Rugby World Cup

Jesse Kriel escaping a sanction has not been received well.

Fans, pundits and Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend were left frustrated after Jesse Kriel was not punished for his tackle during South Africa’s Rugby World Cup opener.

The Springbok centre clashed heads with Scotland back-rower Jack Dempsey in the opening minutes of the match, with the incident missed by the officials.

Much like Tom Curry’s sending off at the same ground on Saturday, Kriel made the tackle in the opening minutes as he rushed up to hit Dempsey.

It also came shortly after Chile captain Martin Sigren was shown a yellow card for a head clash with Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima.

However, while the other two incidents saw cards issued, Scotland did not even get a penalty for the challenge despite the players pleading with referee Angus Gardner.


Speaking at half time on ITV, former Scotland international John Barclay slammed the officials for the non-decision.

“The confusion is that the TMOs are always looking,” said Barclay.

“You are two minutes into a game, and you’ve got an incident that, as you see, is a red card. It is a red card.

“He comes from a distance, a clear line of sight, no drop in height, and he applies force. It’s head-on-head. That’s a red card.

“That’s the way the game is refereed – whether you like or it not – that is a red card.

“We saw a very similar incident last night [Tom Curry’s sending off] that was given as a yellow and was upgraded to a red in the bunker.

“This is where the game gets a bit messy because this is where they look very similar. Yeah, from slightly different positions from a kick, but that is a red card, and the fact it wasn’t seen or reviewed is inexcusable.”

The reaction on social media platform X was largely in line with Barclay.

Nick Johnston’s post read: “Barclay is absolutely right, and has clearly read the stuff on World Rugby’s website – may not agree with the laws, but under them, Kriel should have got a red card for that challenge. The inconsistency in officiating does the game no favours.”

Meanwhile, English journalist Alex Lowe felt that England might use Kriel’s tackle during Curry’s hearing on Tuesday evening.

“You’d think the RFU would challenge the Tom Curry red card at Tuesday’s hearing. Could this Jesse Kriel decision – and the Martin Sigren decision earlier, which is more similar – help their case? Plus you’d expect them to argue for mitigation given the dynamics of the situation,” his post read.

Gregor Townsend frustrated

Scotland head coach Townsend was left frustrated as he claimed to see the incident from a distance.

“I saw it from two screens away,” he said after the match.

“It did look like it was a head-on-head collision, and I was expecting the TMO to come in and make the referee aware of that.”

Asked if it was a potential game-changer, Townsend replied: “Who knows? Last night, a red card didn’t change the game much in terms of Argentina’s favour, so who knows?”

He added: “There are still inconsistencies in seeing these things. We are frustrated by that. But we are more frustrated by our own performance.”

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