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TOKYO (AP) — As New Zealand was winding up its Rugby World Cup romp against Namibia on Sunday, coach Steve Hansen was hoping his side didn’t have to make any more tackles.
He didn’t want another yellow card. Or worse, a red.
Hansen had already seen the All Blacks get issued their first yellow cards of this tournament. Props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi were sin-binned in separate incidents for similar tackles at Tokyo Stadium: Their arms hit the heads of players who were ducking into contact.
World Rugby’s updated high tackle framework this year has sought greater protection for players by tasking referees with zero tolerance for contact with the head or neck in matches. The showpiece Rugby World Cup in Japan has magnified the attention on the framework and the pressure on referees to strictly apply it. Of eight instances of suspensions in the tournament, five have been for dangerous high tackles.
Hansen repeated on Monday the two yellows against the defending champion All Blacks were fair,
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