Edinburgh defence coach Calum MacRae says he has no complaints about the red card shown to replacement centre George Taylor with just over 10 minutes to go in yesterday afternoon’s hard-fought victory away to Zebre.

Taylor’s shoulder made contact with Antonio Rizzi’s neck, and although there did not appear to be any malice in the challenge, it was dangerous.

Given that Taylor was playing his first game since being on the receiving end of a horror tackle which left him with serious facial injuries back in November, the player himself will be keenly aware of just how important it is to have a zero-tolerance approach to policing this area.

“Have I got any complaints with it? Not really,” said MacRae, who was deputising for Richard Cockerill after the late return of a Covid test prevented the head coach from travelling to Italy. “For me, George didn’t change level enough in order to make sure he could complete the tackle appropriately, so put himself in hot water.

“He’s obviously had the injury against Llanelli when he fell foul of it, and we’ve just got to be consistent on how we approach it around making sure we’re very hard on that level change so it safeguards the tackler and the ball carrier.”

Taylor had only been on the park five minutes when he was dismissed, having replaced Mark Bennett, who had put in an all-action display in both defence and attack before picking up a head knock with a ferocious tackle of his own on Rizzi.

Bennett has an illustrious history as a Scotland regular for three years between 2014 and 2017, a World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year nominee in 2015, and an Olympic silver medallist with the Team GB sevens side in 2016.

A combination of injury and form has seen his stock fall in recent years, and he hasn’t played for Scotland since June 2018, but he is still only 27 and MacRae thinks he is a more complete player now than he was when he arrived at the club in the summer of 2017.

“Mark’s worked very hard at his game,” said MacRae. “When I first started working with him, everyone talking about him would mention his attack, but he wanted to improve his defence and he’s become a far more consistent performer on that front.

“He’s one of the defensive leaders in the team, and gives valuable input during the week both in the preview of opposition and how he leads by example on the field. I think his consistency of performance is really starting to shine through and it’s a case of him maintaining that form.

“It’s just a case of him catching the eye of the people in the national squad. He’s playing some good rugby at the moment and it’s down to them if they’re seeing what he’s doing and think it is in line with what they need.”