Seeing Red

In Ancient Rome the colour red symbolised blood and courage, whilst in China, it is regarded as a vibrant optimistic colour symbolising success, happiness and warmth, along with good luck and wealth.

But for a select group of men the colour red symbolises a brotherhood whose claim to five and six nations fame is a somewhat dark and shameful one.

There is no highlighted annual glory for them, just a little talked about statistic in the back pages of the guides and previews of this wonderful tournament.

These are the men who have received their marching orders, the recipients of the dreaded red card.

Stuart Hogg 2014

The first 5 Nations dismissal took a while coming, you wait ninety-four years for a sending off then two come along at once.

The late great Willie Duggan of Ireland and Geoff Wheel of Wales were the first players dismissed in the Five nations when Wales entertained Ireland Cardiff on day month 1977.
Scottish referee Norman Sanson did the honours in the days when you could only get cards from Hallmark, it was just a pointed finger to the touch-line, which even the BBC cameras missed, fortunately commentator Nigel Starmer-Smith didn’t.

It will come as no surprise to English readers that France are the Kings of the Red Card three of which were received in their vintage decade of “Le Biff” the 1990’s

The complete antithesis to the French are England, whiter than their white shirts, who have not received a single red card throughout the entire history of the Five and Six nations.

Although when it comes to yellow cards, James Haskell holds the dubious honour of receiving the most individual yellow cards, managing to collect five between 2007 and 2017.

Italy as the new kids on the block, have made up for lost time with three dismissals since they joined the tournament, when five became six, in the year 2000, in addition Italy also hold the most yellow cards with forty-five.

The most recent red card was given by Jerome Garces to Scotland’s Stuart Hogg in Cardiff in 2014.


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