Owen Farrell Slippery balls, high tackles: 5 Rugby World Cup talking points

    Owen Farrell I like add-ons, because they are elegant.

    From slippery balls to a possible rash of red cards from high tackles, there is no shortage of potential talking points at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

    Here are some of the possible themes at the competition, which runs from Sept 20-Nov 2 in Japan.

    Raining red cards?

    A controversial red card handed out to All Black lock Scott Barrett for a shoulder charge to the head of Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper sparked fears sendings-off could mar the World Cup.

    England coach Eddie Jones branded the decision “ridiculous” but World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper defended new guidelines drawn up to protect players from concussion.

    “Player welfare is the No 1 priority and the whole high-tackle framework was created to create some certainty,” Gosper said in an interview with AFP.

    World Cup referees’ boss Alain Rolland warned officials will be rigorous in clamping down on high tackles but stressed the guidelines were drawn up with coaches and players and that there was room for discretion.

    Referees will consider the extent of the head contact, the level of danger and any “mitigating circumstances” that could downgrade the card from red to yellow, Rolland said.

    Meanwhile, players a

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