Referee ruled at fault over Du Plessis dismissal

IRB says first caution in All Blacks clash was a mistake as sending-off scrubbed from records

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 4:56am

The International Rugby Board has found fault with referee Romain Poite's decision to award the first of two yellow cards against South Africa's Bismarck du Plessis in a test against New Zealand on Saturday, and Rugby Championship organisers have deleted a subsequent red card from the Springbok hooker's career record.

The IRB yesterday said the yellow card awarded against du Plessis for a tackle on New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter in the 17th minute of the match was "incorrect". Du Plessis received a second yellow card, and automatic dismissal, for foul play in the 42nd minute of the match.

New Zealand went on to win 29-15 as South Africa played most of the second half with 14 men.

"Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials, who, having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of law," the Dublin-based IRB said.

Du Plessis' ejection for his second offence - an elbow to the throat of All Blacks flanker Liam Messam - came with his team trailing 17-10. New Zealand's victory put them four points clear of the Springboks in the southern hemisphere championship standings with two rounds remaining.

Carter, the IRB's World Player of the Year in 2012, is out for as many as six weeks and will miss matches in South Africa and Argentina on September 28 and October 5 after injuring his right shoulder, the All Blacks said.

Carter posted on his Twitter feed that there was "nothing wrong" with the tackle and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Du Plessis had been "unlucky" with the initial yellow card.

Du Plessis would appear before a judicial hearing held by videoconference today, tournament organisers said.

Terry Willis, an Australian judicial officer for the Sanzar group, which sanctions international rugby in the southern hemisphere, later removed the red card from Du Plessis' disciplinary record.

The Sanzar judicial hearing was held yesterday via teleconference, with submissions made on behalf of the player and the video footage reviewed.

Sanzar said Willis found Poite's decision "was wrong", as the tackle on Carter "was within the laws of the game".

The yellow card issued against du Plessis, for raising his elbow as he went into a tackle against an All Blacks backrower, remains on his record. The first yellow card was instantly questioned by commentators on both sides.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg