The black card in Gaelic football could become a thing of the past as the GAA’s playing rules committee looks to simplify the classification of foul play in both codes.
Although it actually doesn’t exist in physical form - the black cover of the referee’s notebook is used to signify that one of the five cynical fouls has been committed - the David Hassan-chaired group are considering doing away with the third “card”, which was introduced in 2014.
Instead, they are looking at the idea of an extensive number of cynical acts along with rough play coming into the yellow card bracket with the punishment being a 10-minute sin bin. Red cards would remain for the present permanent sending-off offences such as dangerous play.
The previous playing rules committee under the chairmanship of Jarlath Burns had intended addressing the complicated nature of playing rules but ran out of time. After bringing in the sin bin as well as the 20m kick-out and advanced mark, Hassan and his committee are now moving on the matter and look set to bring forward motions to that effect at Annual Congress in Dublin in February.
Last month, the GAA’s director of games Pat Daly, a member of the playing rules group, said it was time that foul play was made easier to understand and explain, revealing there were seven combinations of cards and notings that a referee can issue to a player in Gaelic football.
He added that a cynical foul such as pulling back a player, which currently wouldn’t constitute a yellow card merely a noting and a free, is just as cynical and effective as a black card pull-down or body check.
It remains to be seen how persistent fouling and repeated noting offences would be treated but the committee is understood to be keen on introducing the revised classification across the board to hurling, which might see the introduction of the sin bin into the game.
As the sin bin is a temporary punishment and aimed at the team more so than the player, there is a belief that it may be more palatable to the hurling fraternity than the current black card automatic substitution.
However, the list of fouls meriting a sin bin in hurling would likely be much lesser than that in football.
A workshop entitled “The Future Classification of Foul Play” was held at Special Congress in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last month where delegates were briefed on the committee’s plans and asked for feedback.
The sin bin officially comes into effect from this weekend but only for new competitions. However, it’s not expected that it and the other two new rules will be launched in earnest until the pre-season competitions next month as the finer details have yet to be confirmed.