Now Bismarck is in the dock

2013-09-16 00:00

REFEREE Romain Poite admits he was wrong, and the International Rugby Board have confirmed the Frenchman made a mistake, but Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis still faces further disciplinary action after his red carding in the international against the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.

Du Plessis was yesterday instructed to face a Sanzar disciplinary hearing that will be held by video conference tomorrow.

The Bok hooker faces suspension in spite of the International Rugby Board issuing an unprecedented statement yesterday confirming that “it was incorrect for referee Romain Poite to issue a yellow card to Bismarck du Plessis in the 17th minute of the Rugby Championship match”.

“Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials.”

The IRB said that Poite and the match officials, “having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake”.

The IRB said that the performances of the officials would be assessed and considered when appointments are made for future Test matches.

Du Plessis, who showed excellent form in the half-hour he was on the field, was on the receiving end of two controversial yellow cards (and an automatic red) and sent from the field one minute into the second half.

Common sense would suggest that any charge against Du Plessis would have been dropped by Sanzar because his sin-binning in the first half was patently wrong.

The carding of Du Plessis was first considered by the duty judicial officer (DJO) Adam Casselden, who believes Du Plessis should face further censure, possibly for the second yellow card when he was fending off tackler Liam Messam with his forearm and caught him in the throat.

“Bismarck du Plessis will appear at a Sanzar judicial hearing,” Sanzar said in a statement late yesterday. “The judicial officer for the hearing will be Terry Willis.”

The Springbok management refused to comment on the ruling, but there was international condemnation of Poite’s decision.

Even Carter defended Du Plessis.

“Nothing wrong with the tackle,” Carter tweeted yesterday morning. “Fell awkwardly and popped my AC joint.”

Carter will be sidelined for six weeks with the shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship.

Not only South Africans were up in arms at the referee’s call. Jonathan Davies, the BBC commentator and former Welsh captain, called it “a disgraceful yellow card for Du Plessis”.

“Great tackle. It will be touch rugby next. Officials need to have a feel for the game.”

Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick, a member of the NZ television team, said: “The worst performance of the day was from the referee”.

Justin Marshall, co-commentator on the day for Sky NZ and a former All Black scrumhalf, was also outspoken in his criticism.

“That’s rubbish. It’s just a big tackle. Get real. Come on … Absolutely okay and to say no arms is ridiculous.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer kicked for touch when later asked if the referee had been competent.

“I think you know the answer to that”, but added that he did not want to blame the Boks’ loss on the match officials.

“We don’t have any excuses. We wanted the game to be a spectacle, but I don’t think we played well.”

In an audio link-up from Auckland, Meyer said the Springboks were in positive mood at half time when the All Blacks led 17-10.

“The All Blacks had the better of the first 30 minutes, but I think the momentum of the Test changed after we scored the try from our lineout drive.

“We were confident at the half-time break. If you’re within seven points, you’re in the game.

“But I don’t want to take anything away from the All Blacks because they are a quality side.”

Meyer said he was proud of his side for only losing the second half 12-5 in spite of playing with only 14 men.

“But I don’t want to make excuses for my team because the players then make excuses.”

Captain Jean de Villiers was more forthright, saying the players — and he as captain — took responsibility and blamed themselves for the loss.

“The red carding did take away some of the spectacle but the one thing we mustn’t look past is that this is a quality New Zealand side and they were the better team on the day.

“We need to take a hard look at ourselves. That certainly was not a performance that was good enough to compete with them.

“The management did all they could do to prepare us and we had a fantastic game-plan.

“But we let our country down. We’re still a way away from competing with the best. The positive is that we still have two games to make amends,” said De Villiers.

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