Sin-bins in football: Exeter Chiefs rugby union boss Rob Baxter urges caution from game’s lawmakers

Exeter Chiefs rugby director Rob Baxter admitted he was “surprised” to hear the news football’s law-making body

Rugby union has been using sin-bins to punish various offenses for more than 20 years; IFAB had agreed to trial sin-bins for dissent and particular tactical fouls at higher levels.

Legislators for football have agreed to test sin-bins at higher levels of the game, but Rob Baxter has cautioned them to go cautiously.

At its annual business meeting, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which has backed the temporary dismissals of players for offenses like dissent and particular tactical fouls, endorsed the measure after it was successfully implemented in the grassroots game.

Sin-bins have been used in rugby union for more than 20 years, and they were introduced across all levels of

Beginning with the 2019–20 season, grassroots football aims to raise the bar for fair play and respect in the game. But Baxter, the rugby director for Exeter Chiefs, advised prudence while using them.

During his nearly 15 years in command, Baxter has led Exeter to Premiership and European glory. “I will be honest with you, I am very surprised football are doing it,” he added. “I don’t know how much they realized they were letting the genie out of the bottle, but I was a little astonished when football switched to VAR.

Rugby is the worst sport for us because we interfere with it so much. We’ve come to the realization that we really want less television match official [TMO] interference; in fact, the worldwide game is advocating for less TMO.

“All the commentators and ex-professional footballers are saying we need way less VAR interference, and if it does happen it has to happen quickly and the crowd need to know what it is about because it is just causing mayhem in big games.

“Once you begin the process, it is really difficult to stop adjusting it; they are always making adjustments. Football has always had the advantage that anyone can teach the rules to the average new fan in five minutes or less, and they will understand.

“I would only advise football players to exercise caution. Do penalties, free kicks, and yellow cards as they currently stand—which can escalate to reds for a double yellow—really need to be implemented to manage player behavior, or have they already had the means to do so but haven’t been employing them?

“That is what I see in football – they have got the sanctions available in their game, so use them. For player abuse

It just takes a few rounds to get the feel of it, and things shift quite rapidly. I would exercise extreme caution when issuing yellow cards and taking players off the field.”

Baxter cautioned against the peril of band-aid solutions and said rugby has also had its fair share of issues in this regard.

The 52-year-old admitted, “We have been guilty of starting processes without thinking about the repercussions.” “We believe they are easily remedied, but are they really?

“Total elimination of VAR was the main topic of discussion this morning on football radio because opponents wanted two-minute pauses while officials determined whether or not a handball occurred. We implemented that in rugby and discovered

We’ve exerted Nth degree pressure on it. You need to use caution when using the card item.

“You have to be cautious about when you wish to regulate player behavior once you start claiming that removing players off the field is your method of doing so.

“On the whole, we brought it in the proper manner because it was for recurring violations. In rugby, it was necessary to stop the cynical repetition of the same old drill.

“We’ve gone through the period of realising that taking players off the pitch at every available opportunity is not necessarily the way to create a good game.”


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