RWC 2019

When the yellow mist descends

Three yellow cards were issued before half-time in Tuesday’s physical epic between Russia and Samoa at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Photo by Shaun Roy / Gallo Images)

Who has the dubious honour of the most yellow cards in a rugby game? It’s not Samoa, whose two yellows in Tuesday’s Rugby World Cup 2019 clash with Russia turns out to be fairly minor misbehaviour.

This article was first published by Extra Time Media.

A few weeks ago, before the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after All Black Scott Barrett was sent off in a match between New Zealand and Australia, we looked at Test-playing nations with the most red cards.

Some might have been surprised by those statistics, but after Tuesday’s physical epic between Russia and Samoa on Tuesday, we couldn’t resist digging into those disciplinary stats again.

Three yellow cards were issued before half-time and two Samoan players – Motu Matu’u and Rey Lee-Lo – were sent to the sin bin at the same time.

Some teams fall foul of the law more than others and gain reputations for being prone to misdemeanours. Or is it just that some teams are allowed to get away with more than others?

As it turns out, two yellow cards in a single game is minor. The dubious honour of the most yellow cards in a single game goes to Fiji – with five yellows.

Four players were sent to the bin in the space of eight minutes when the Fijians played Italy in 2003. Akapusi Qera went first, then Aseli Tikoirotuma, then Masi Matadigo and finally Nemani Nadolo. Sisa Koyamaibole got his card in the second half.

Italy won 37-31, a flattering scorecard considering they were up 20-5 at half-time. Four teams – Italy, Georgia, England and Russia (twice) have received four yellow cards in a single game. Several others are in the three yellows column – and that’s happened in 41 different fixtures.

In case you’re wondering, England’s dubious honour came in 2008 at Twickenham against New Zealand.

Lee Mears, James Haskell and Toby Flood were all carded in the first half. Tom Rees completed the quartet in the second. Yes, New Zealand won – 32-6. And yellow cards for the All Blacks in that game? Zero. DM

The most yellow cards for one team in a game

Data source: ESPNScrum


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options