SEDGLEY Tigers coach Geoff Roberts has called for consistency and common sense as the game's governing body tries to minimise the risk of concussion faced by players.
The Park Lane men fell foul of tough new rules aimed at cutting down the number of high tackles in their match against Chester earlier this month, when Mark Goodman earned a straight red card for making contact with an opponent's head.
His suspension was later overturned on appeal, with the RFU board determining the sending off was "sufficient penalty" and Goodman figured in Saturday's 34-17 victory at home to Preston Grasshoppers.
While Roberts applauds the authorities' good intentions, he believes the tougher sanctions are not being administered consistently by referees and will have little effect on the risks faced by players.
"In Saturday's game there were five yellow cards shown and the majority of them were for high tackles," said Roberts.
"They were no different to the tackle that earned Mark Goodman a red card the previous week.
"Now I feel sorry for the referees as they have been put in a very difficult situation, but there has to be some consistency from week to week.
"My concern is that if players are sent off in some matches but only sin-binned in others for the same offence then that could affect the outcome of the title race.
"We ended up drawing against Chester after playing the majority of the game with 14 men.
"I also believe the rules will have little or no effect on players' safety.
"The referee was trying to clampdown on dangerous play on Saturday yet one of our players – Richard Wainwright – went off with concussion."
Wainwright had only just returned from a three-week lay-off due to concussion and now faces a potentially longer spell on the sidelines.
Roberts fully backs the RFU's strict guidelines on the treatment of concussion and has vowed to ensure his player does not return until all the possible tests are completed and he has been signed off by a doctor.
But he added: "Richard could be out for six or nine weeks, however long it takes before we are sure he is fit to play.
"The issue for me is that his concussion was unavoidable. He went up for high ball and hit his head on someone's knee as he fell back down to the floor.
"We have had five players suffer concussion in matches this season and each time they have been caused by run-of-the-mill incidents that were just one of those things you get in rugby.
"My fear is that if you send off a player every time there is a risk of a head injury in a tackle then we will soon be playing 10v10 and the players will still not be any safer."
Sedgley benefited from two yellow cards dished out to Preston players in the first half, racing into a 29-0 lead following tries from Richard Lepori and two each from Andy Riley and Johnny Matthews, as well as two conversions from Matt Riley.
Preston scored an unconverted try on the stroke of half time, which was cancelled out by a Max Skofic effort seven minutes after the break.
Sedgley then picked up two yellow cards of their own but the visitors were only able to add two tries during their two-man advantage.
The result left Preston bottom of National Two North while Sedgley go into the festive break third in the table, 13 points behind leaders Caldy.