Johan Goosen ‘rugby incident’ red card changed outcome of Bulls v Munster, says Jake White

Johan Goosen was in top form for the Bulls against Munster on Saturday, but received a red card for a dangerous tackle in the second half. Photo: BackpagePix

Johan Goosen was in top form for the Bulls against Munster on Saturday, but received a red card for a dangerous tackle in the second half. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 21, 2024


While Jake White feels the Johan Goosen red card “made the game turn a different angle”, he agrees that it was a difficult decision to make as the Bulls took a blow to their United Rugby Championship hopes with Saturday’s 27-22 defeat to Munster at Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls had just taken a 22-17 lead through Johan Grobbelaar’s try in the 50th minute, but then the big moment of the match came when Welsh referee Adam Jones sent Goosen off for a dangerous tackle.

The former Springbok flyhalf had gone in to tackle Munster replacement scrumhalf Craig Casey near a breakdown. Goosen had tried to close down Casey’s pass, but instead, the Munster halfback dummied, which saw the two players’ heads clashing, and they immediately went down to the ground in what seemed to be an unfortunate collision.

Both players went off for HIA tests, but referee Jones consulted with TMO Craig Evans, and felt that there was no mitigation for Goosen.

And not only was the Bulls pivot red-carded, but a try to Canan Moodie – who had picked up the loose ball and raced away to dot down in the right corner – was ruled out as well.

“I thought we were actually getting back into the game, and I got the feeling that they were hanging on a bit,” White said afterwards.

“And, had that try been given (to Canan Moodie), and the ref thought that it was a rugby incident (with Goosen’s tackle), then all of a sudden we’re four tries in, looking like we’re getting onto a bit of momentum.

“That’s why I said it’s such a difficult one, because I understand that they are trying to make the game safer. They don’t want concussions.

“One week, you might be fortunate when a referee says ‘Look, that was a rugby incident’, or like that one (Kurt-Lee Arendse tackled by Luke McGrath against Leinster) was a yellow card, even though he knocked Kurt-Lee like that.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth. I definitely think it changed the outcome of the game. I definitely think it made the game turn a different angle.

“Had that been later on in the game and we were far ahead, then people don’t see the importance of that – that’s what makes it so hard and difficult for a coach, because you almost sense that there are certain key moments in a game that if they go for you or don’t go for you, then you could up winning or losing game.

“Margins are so small. There was a trip on Kurt-Lee when he tried to step some guy. Two weeks ago, it might have been said that’s a yellow card.

“There was a time when they tackled Kurt-Lee high in one of those carries he had, and two weeks ago, maybe they would have said ‘Let’s have a look at that again’.

“At the end of the day, you probably win some and lose some, and you’ve got to accept that.

“But as I said, he came running in and the guy was trying to pass the ball upright as a nine... I wonder if that nine was down passing, whether he would’ve defended that differently?

“You can’t change it, and at the end of the day, it’s another hearing this week, which is also disruptive – last week was a hearing with Cameron (Hanekom). That’s also a thing that detracts from preparing properly for the week.”

The Bulls, though, were far from their best, with a slow start in the first half compounded by unnecessary mistakes in the second.

They wasted a few attacking lineout opportunities, tried to force too many offloads when another carry and ruck would’ve been the better option, and didn’t address the gamesmanship tactics from the URC defending champions – with Irish veteran Peter O’Mahony to the fore in that regard.

And of course, Springbok lock RG Snyman pulled off a few typically dynamic offloads and charges forwards, while also stealing a few Bulls lineouts.

“We got a great turnover (near the Bulls 22), and then we try to move the ball and Wilco (Louw) knocked it on,” White said.

“Now, it’s not his fault... I mean, we got a great turnover, we got the ball back after they were climbing at our line, and then we go and give them a scrum back there again.

“That’s not how we’ve been... We’ve been quite good at understanding how to get out of our half – and tonight, we weren’t. We put ourselves under pressure at times. That scrum actually led to a try.

“Then right on halftime, knocking the ball out of the nine’s hands, it’s another three points. Now, if you take out 10 points, then we’re in the game.

“So, I suppose I’m just frustrated because that’s not how good we are, and I think the players understand that.

“So, it’s no use me telling them something they don’t know. We’ve played better than that, and we will play better than that.

“You’ve heard this ad nauseam from many coaches: the margins are so small. The margins are... sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes you don’t.

“So, there’s no use in saying what happened there and what could’ve happened there, because it didn’t happen.

“So, we’ve just got to make sure that Monday, we get to work. We’ve still got four games, and within those four games, we still can create pressure at the top of the log.

— vodacomrugby (@VodacomRugga) April 20, 2024

“That’s what we’ve got to do: try to finish as high up as we can and give ourselves a fair crack against whoever we play in the quarter- and semi-finals – that we’ve got to be good enough.”

Next up for the Bulls, who are fourth on the URC log on 46 points, behind Leinster (54), Glasgow (53) and Munster (48) are the Ospreys – who beat the Stormers 27-21 in Cape Town on Saturday night – at Loftus Versfeld this Saturday (3pm kickoff).


Bulls 22 – Tries: Elrigh Louw, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Johan Goosen (2). Penalty: Goosen (1).

Munster 27 – Tries: Shane Daly, RG Snyman, John Hodnett, Conor Murray. Conversions: Jack Crowley (2). Penalty: Crowley (1).