extra time stories

RWC 2019: Most yellow cards in a single rugby game

After Samoa were behaving badly, here’s a look at the most yellow cards for a team in a single game.

A few weeks ago, before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after Scott Barrett was sent off in a match between New Zealand and Australia, we looked at Test-playing nations with the most red cards.

Some might have been surprised by those statistics but after the World Cup fixture between Russia and Samoa on Tuesday, we couldn’t resist digging into some discipline stats again.

With three yellow cards before half-time and two Samoan players – Motu Matu’u and Rey Lee-Lo – were both sent off at the same time.

Some teams do have a reputation of being prone to misdemeanours. Or is that just that some teams are allowed to get away with more than others?

As it turns out, two yellow cards in a single game is minor. The dubious honour of the most yellow cards in a single game goes to Fiji – with five yellows.

Four players were sent to the bin in the space of eight minutes when they played Italy in 2003. Akapusi Qera went first, then Aseli Tikoirotuma, Masi Matadigo and finally, Nemani Nadolo. Sisa Koyamaibole got his card in the second half. Italy won 37-31, a flattering scorecard considering they were up 20-5 at half-time.

Four teams – Italy, Georgia, England and Russia (twice) have received four red cards in a single game while several others fall in the three yellows in a game category – that’s happened in 41 different fixtures.

In case you’re wondering, England’s dubious honour came in 2008 at Twickenham against New Zealand.

Lee Mears, James Haskell and Toby Flood were all carded in the first half. Tom Rees completed the quartet in the second. Yes, New Zealand won – 6-32. And yellow cards for the All Blacks in that game? Zero.

Most yellow cards for one team in a game

Data source: ESPNScrum.