Saturday, September 14, 2013
The All Blacks beat the Springboks 29-15 in Auckland earlier after the visitors had one of their key players, Bismarck Du Plessis, sent off following a second yellow card. The first however, is what infuriated the majority of rugby fans around the globe.
Du Plessis, who had already shown his value with at least two breakdown turnovers and some strong carries, flew into flyhalf Dan Carter, smashing him to the ground in a massive tackle.
A fight broke out after Ma' Nonu and Willem Alberts got in a bit of a tussle, then the rest of both packs joined in while Carter was crouched over with an apparent AC Joint shoulder injury.
Referee Romain Poite asked TMO George Ayoub to check for foul play, to which Ayoub responded (after having a look) that there was no foul play.
Poite then yellow carded Du Plessis, saying that it was a high tackle. Respected members of the rugby fraternity, and players both past and present, took to twitter to share their surprise and dismay at a decision that had the potential to alter the outcome of a classic content.
In the studio at halftime, former All Black captain Sean Fitpatrick said "The worst performance of the day was from the referee. He got that one wrong".
Justin Marshall, co-commentator on the day for Sky NZ, was outspoken in his view of it. "That's rubbish. It's just a big tackle," he said when seeing the replays. "Get real. Come on... Absolutely okay and to say no arms is ridiculous".
Du Plessis came back on and scored a try, but early in the second half he led with his elbow as Liam Messam went in for an upright tackle, and it was deemed to be dangerous, resulting in his second yellow card and of course, a red card sending off.
Adriaan Strauss was brought on as a hooker replacement so Alberts had to be sacrificed. The Springboks couldn't cope a man down, and despite Kieran Read and Ma'a Nonu also being yellow carded in the last seven minutes, the home side chalked up yet another win at Eden Park.
Springbok captain Jean De Villiers chose not to directly discuss the officials' decisions. "It was as hard as always when you play the All Blacks, but I guess the fact that we played with 14 men for 50 minutes did not make it any easier for us," De Villiers said.
UPDATE: The IRB have acknowledged that the decision by Poite to yellow card Du Plessis for the tackle on Carter was incorrect. Consequently, a SANZAR hearing has ruled that the red card be struck from the record as the decision was wrong and the tackle was within the laws of the game.