Rugby has two cards which indicate penalties to the players – yellow and red. It is important to understand why you are being carded and what each penalty card means. It is equally important to grasp why you are being shown one of these cards in order to have a successful and safe match.

Here are the meanings of the two penalty cards.

Red Card

If a player has committed a serious offense, then the referee will show the player a red card, which indicates that they are not allowed to return to the game or be substituted. A referee may also signal this penalty by extending one arm above the head and pointing with the index finger toward a sideline. The decision to show a player a red card is up to the referee, as is the seriousness of an offense, and a player will receive a red card after being shown two yellow cards. A player may receive a red card without being shown a yellow card if the offense is serious.

Yellow Card

A yellow card indicates that a player is temporarily suspended from the match for 10 minutes, and during that time may not be replaced. A yellow card is shown for an offense such as obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct. Often, rugby players refer to receiving a yellow card as being sent to the “sin bin” – as they are sent off of the field. If a player is shown a second yellow card, they will receive a red card thereafter.

Sometimes, a referee will use hand signals when issuing penalties, such as crossing his arms at right angles over his chest when obstruction during play is committed. Another example of hand signals being used is when a player punches another player – the referee will indicate this penalty by punching one closed fist into the open palm of the hand.

The rules and regulations of rugby can be confusing at times, but if you teach your son to recognise these penalty cards and hand signals, it will go a long way to his understanding and enjoyment of the game.