Editorial | Kings need to get a grip on discipline

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It is high time for the struggling Isuzu Southern Kings to get a grip on their woeful disciplinary record in the Guinness PRO14 rugby competition.
As the list of losses continues to grow, so do the number of penalties and cards being dished out by referees. In their debut season there could have been a measure of sympathy for the Kings as they battled to come to the terms with the interpretations of European officials.
But, even after 36 PRO14 matches, the cards and penalties are continuing to stack up against them.
During their 43-0 drubbing at the hands of Munster at Irish Independence Park last week, the Kings’ long running problems with referees continued.
Not only were the Kings blanked on the scoreline, but they were they were also blasted on the penalty count.
Italian referee Andrea Piardi awarded 15 penalties against the Kings, while none went against Munster.
No team has had more penalties awarded against them in the competition than the Kings.
After 15 matches the Kings have conceded 218 penalties, which has not helped their bid to climb off the foot of the table.
The Kings are also bottom of the log in the disciplinary statistics. So far they have been shown 21 yellow cards and two reds.
It is a problem that has worried Kings head coach Deon Davids for some time, but getting on the right side of referees continues to be a major headache.
Issues at scrum time because of inexperienced players in the front row have also pushed up the penalty count.
Matters reached a head when the Kings had 22 penalties awarded against them against Ulster in Port Elizabeth at the start of the season.
The Kings brought in top referees Mark Lawrence and Stuart Berry, who work for SA Rugby and also with the PRO14, to look at areas the side could improve in.
Davids said he wants to understand how referees react and what their focus areas are.
The Kings can’t afford any more players to be sent to the naughty chair as they struggle to make an impact in the PRO14.

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