WATCH: Every red card in the history of the Six Nations
Planet Rugby takes a look through the history of red cards in the Six Nations since 2000, with 18 issued since Italy joined the competition.
Five Scotland players have been shown red cards in the tournament’s history, one more than France and Italy. Meanwhile, England’s number grew to three during the 2023 Six Nations, while Ireland have seen two players sent off in the Championship’s history.
While Wales have not had a player sent off in the 23 years since Italy joined, six players have been issued a red card whilst playing against them.
Walter Cristofoletto v France – 2000
Italy lock Walter Cristofoletto became the first player to be red carded in a Six Nations fixture during Italy’s first-ever Championship.
In the final round of the tournament, Italy looked to send legendary fly-half Diego Dominguez into retirement with one final victory. However, it was not to be, as they fell to a 42-31 defeat to France.
Cristofoletto was yellow-carded in the first half of the match for arguing with the officials. Before the hour mark, he was given his marching orders for stamping.
Alessandro Troncon v Ireland – 2001
In Italy’s next Six Nations fixture following Cristofoletto’s red card, referee Jonathan Kaplan gave Alessandro Troncon his marching orders.
In the 76th minute of the match, Peter Stringer was flung onto the Italian’s side of the pitch at a ruck. As the Irish scrum-half tracked back to his side of the field, Troncon looked to pounce for the ball.
As Troncon advanced, Stringer decided to tug the Italian’s jersey and stop him from going to for the ball. The Azzurri number nine took exception to Stringer’s antics and immediately lashed out. He struck the Irishman, with Stringer falling to the ground clutching his face.
He copped a three-week suspension for his actions.
Scott Murray v Wales – 2006
After two red cards in quick succession, there was a five-year gap until the next sending-off. Scott Murray became the first Scotland player to be issued a red card in the Six Nations.
The incident occurred in the 21st minute following a Wales lineout. Wales overthrew the ball, and Murray was the quickest to react and collect the ball. He passed out to his backline but was tackled late by opposition lock Ian Gough.
With both players on the ground, Murray kicked Gough in the face, which New Zealand referee Steve Walsh spotted immediately.
“This man (Gough) took out this player (Murray) late, unfortunately for you (Gough), you retaliated. You struck out, and you kicked him in the head; I have no option; you are now red-carded, you are off,” Walsh explained after the incident.
The New Zealander sent Gough to the sin bin and red-carded Murray for his actions. Murray was quick to explain that he did not mean to kick Gough and offered an apology to the Welshman. He was later suspended for three-weeks after his disciplinary hearing.
Michele Rizzo and Rabah Slimani – 2014
This time there was an eight-year gap between red cards, but referee Jaco Peyper issued two at the same time.
During the final 10 minutes of the match, Italy had a scrum five metres from France‘s try-line. The Italian dominated the set-piece, but after both front-rows stood up, Peyper blew his whistle for a reset.
However, Italy prop Michele Rizzo decided to headbutt opposing tighthead Rabah Slimani, and the French reacted immediately, returning the favour. Both players were sent off for their actions.
Both players were handed two-week suspensions.
Stuart Hogg v Wales – 2014
There was one more red card in 2014 as Stuart Hogg became the second Scotsman to be sent off in a Six Nations match.
In an attempt to charge down Dan Biggar, Hogg collided with the Welshman with his shoulder, making contact with his head.
Referee Jerome Garces initially showed Hogg a yellow card, but he changed it to red after viewing replays of the incident.
A disciplinary panel issued Hogg with a three-week ban for his actions.
Manu Tuilagi v Wales – 2020
Six years lapsed before another red card was issued in the Six Nations, with Manu Tuilagi becoming the first England player to be sent off.
In the 73rd minute of the clash at Twickenham, Wales spread the ball wide to George North’s wing, and he charged towards the try-line.
In an attempt to deny the Welshman a try, Tuilagi collided with his shoulder into North’s head.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe deemed the challenge a ‘clear shoulder charge’ and that Tuilagi made direct contact with the head. The centre was given his marching orders and apologised to North on his way off the pitch.
A disciplinary committee gave Tuilagi a four-week suspension for the shoulder charge.
Mohamed Haouas v Scotland – 2020
Mohamed Haouas became the second France player to be red-carded in a Six Nations match, following fellow tighthead prop Rabah Slimani.
Just before half-time of the Six Nations clash with Scotland in 2020, tempers flared between the two sides, and a scuffle broke out.
Haoaus grabbed Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie in between the madness and punched him. Referee Peyper reviewed the incident with his team of officials before issuing the red card for Haouas.
In his disciplinary hearing, he pleaded guilty and was handed a three-week ban.
Peter O’Mahony v Wales – 2021
Before the 2021 Six Nations, there were just eight red cards in the tournament’s history. However, that number would grow by five during the 21st edition of the Championship.
Peter O’Mahony became the first Ireland player to be sent off in a Six Nations fixture.
Ireland had just won a turnover in the 12th minute of the match, and Josh van der Flier took the ball into contact. In the resulting ruck, Wales prop Tomas Francis was trapped and sitting upright, and O’Mahony flew into the ruck and made contact with the Welshman’s head.
Referee Wayne Barnes red-carded O’Mahony, and he was handed a three-match ban for his actions.
Zander Fagerson v Wales – 2021
A trend emerged during the 2021 Six Nations with players being sent off against Wales. Scotland prop Zander Fagerson was given his marching orders in the Round Two defeat.
The prop was sent off for a similar challenge to that of O’Mahony as he charged into a ruck and collided with his shoulder to the head of Wales’ Wyn Jones.
He was slapped with a four-week ban which ended his Six Nations campaign.
Paul Willemse v Wales – 2021
There would be one more red card in a match involving Wales before the tournament completed, as France lock Paul Willemse was given his marching orders.
Again, the sending-off occurred due to a poor ruck technique, with the lock taking out Wyn Jones high.
At the time of his red card, France trailed Wales 30-20. Les Blues would still win the match 32-30 in the end, ultimately denying Wales a Grand Slam.
He was banned for two weeks.
Bundee Aki v England – 2021
As mentioned above, Ireland had not had a player sent off in the Six Nations before the start of the 2021 Six Nations.
However, they would have two players by the end of the tournament, with Bundee Aki sent off against England.
Unlike the other red cards in 2021, Aki’s red card was the result of a high tackle and not from a breakdown.
Referee Mathieu Raynal gave the centre his marching orders after a tackle on Billy Vunipola, where he made direct contact with the England number eight’s head.
It was the second time that Aki had been red-carded while playing for Ireland, and he was banned for four weeks by a disciplinary panel.
Finn Russell v France – 2021
Finn Russell was the fifth player to be sent off in the 2021 Six Nations. Referee Wayne Barnes sent Russell for leading with his forearm and making contact with the throat of Brice Dulin in the 70th minute.
At the time, France led Scotland 23-20 in the rearranged fixture, and the Scots would still come out on top securing a 25-23 victory.
Russell was handed a three-week ban.
Charlie Ewels v Ireland – 2022
England lock Charlie Ewels holds the unwanted record for the quickest red card in the history of the Six Nations.
It took only 82 seconds for him to get sent off against Ireland as he tackled James Ryan late and high as the two second-rowers collided head-on-head.
His actions proved costly as England would go onto lose the match 32-15. He was also given a three-match ban.
Epalahame Faiva v Ireland – 2022
There were just two red cards during the 2022 Six Nations, both of which came in matches involving Ireland.
Italy hooker Epalahame Faiva became the fourth Azzurri player to be sent off in a Six Nations match. He came off the bench to replace the injured Gianmarco Lucchesi in the ninth minute.
However, his stint did not last long as referee Nika Amashukeli gave him his marching orders in the 19th minute.
Faiva made a high tackle on Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan and would later cop a four-week ban.
Grant Gilchrist v France – 2023
Gilchrist became the sixth Scotland player to be sent off in a Six Nations match during the 2023 tournament.
The lock was sent off shortly after France scored the match’s first try. From the resulting kick-off, Gilchrist sprinted upfield but got his tackle all wrong as he collided with the head of France flanker Anthony Jelonch.
Gilchrist had his shoulder tucked and looked gutted when he left the pitch.
Mohamed Haouas v Scotland – 2023
In the same match as Gilchrist’s sending-off, referee Nika Amashukeli issued a second red card.
This time it was for France prop Haouas. In doing so, Haouas broke an unwanted Six Nations record, becoming the first player to be red-carded twice in the tournament’s history.
Amashukeli gave Haouas his marching orders after he made head-on-head contact with Scotland scrum-half Ben White at a ruck.
Freddie Steward v Ireland – 2023
Freddie Steward was the third and final player to be sent off during the 2023 Six Nations.
The full-back became the third England player to be red-carded in a Six Nations match when he collided with Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan.
After a loose pass by Mack Hansen, Steward and Keenan both charged towards the ball, with Steward bracing for impact and colliding with his opposite number.
Referee Jaco Peyper felt that Steward was at fault and issued a red card.
Six Nations red cards:
Italy’s Walter Cristofoletto v France – 2000
Italy’s Alessandro Troncon v Ireland – 2001
Scotland’s Scott Murray v Wales – 2006
Italy’s Michele Rizzo v France -2014
France’s Rabah Slimani v Italy – 2014
Scotland’s Stuart Hogg v Wales – 2014
England’s Manu Tuilagi v Wales – 2020
France’s Mohamed Haouas v Scotland – 2020
Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony v Wales – 2021
Scotland’s Zander Fagerson v Wales – 2021
France’s Paul Willemse v Wales – 2021
Ireland’s Bundee Aki v England – 2021
Scotland’s Finn Russell v France – 2021
England’s Charlie Ewels v Ireland – 2022
Italy’s Epalahame Faiva v Ireland – 2022
Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist v France – 2023
France’s Mohamed Haouas v Scotland – 2023
England’s Freddie Steward v Ireland – 2023
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