IB plays safe on cards

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The Independent Online
On the one hand there will be a properly severe return to foul play at the forthcoming World Cup, but on the other the organisers have shied away from giving that concrete expression by the use of the red and yellow cards that have coloured this season's Five Nations' Championship.

Yesterday the chairman of Rugby World Cup, Sir Ewart Bell, announced the means by which trangressors - whether sent off or cited - would be judged and, if guilty, how they would be punished. As the minimum suspension is 30 days, rising to 60 for butting and kicking (and sine die for striking a match official), that would be the end of their World Cup.

But as the International Board, unlike the Five Nations, has not yet adopted cards, neither will the World Cup. "I was expecting the card system would be used but the IB hasn't agreed to the general adoption of the experiment," Bell said. "We didn't think the Rugby World Cup was the place to experiment."

While it is fair to point out that a referee correctly doing his job has no need of cards, it is equally so that last year's football World Cup was greatly assisted by the imposition of strict discipline, and the notion of a cumulative penalty for two yellow cards has much to commend it.

Rival managements as well as World Cup officials will be able to cite alleged offenders who go undetected by the match referee, with a hearing to take place before an independent commissioner within 24 hours. Anyone suspended will also be sent straight home.

The 1995 World cup will pick up where the '91 tournament left off, with Derek Bevan, the Welshman who refereed the England-Australia final four years ago, being awarded the opening match on 25 May between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town.

Referees have been appointed for the first two rounds of pool matches, with England well pleased to have Jim Fleming, of Edinburgh, against Argentina and Stephen Hilditch, of Belfast, against Italy as opposed to any of the French and southern-hemisphere officials who have so displeased them in recent years.

Among the other appointments, Ed Morrison, from Bristol, will referee Wales v New Zealand and Wayne Erickson, the Australian who took England v Canada in December, Ireland v New Zealand.