Schalk Burger slammed the decision to red card Emmanuel Tshituka as the Lions shrugged off the disadvantage to beat Racing 92 and reach the last eight of the Challenge Cup.
Tshituka was given his marching orders after a powerful carry resulted in Racing 92 fullback Louis Dupichot suffering a concussion.
The referee, Karl Dickson, judged that the young loose forward had used his elbow in a dangerous manner in the carry, even though Dupichot went upright into the tackle attempt.
Comparing the incident to the controversial one that saw England fullback Freddie Steward red-carded in the final 2023 Six Nations fixture against Ireland, former Springbok flank Burger disagreed with the decision to send Tshituka off.
“I just feel we need to be so careful with rugby, where we are going,” Burger said in the SuperSport studio at half time.
“We had the Freddie Steward incident, also with an elbow to the head, but sort of clumsy and messy, a player protecting himself from another one.
“This is a player carrying the ball against someone who has quite poor technique. You are going to bump him off. The fact that the player then gets knocked out … that’s rugby. We play a contact sport. We have to be so careful.
“For me, it was never a red card.”
Despite missing part of their influential back row, the Lions still managed to put seven tries past a star-studded Racing outfit and secure a massive 51-28 victory on Saturday night.
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