Relief as Steyn gets off

2014-04-01 00:00

SHARKS coach Jake White must have heaved a huge sigh of relief when his trump card Frans Steyn was given an off-field yellow card for his challenge on Kurtley Beale when they beat the Waratahs on Saturday.

With referee Mark Fraser only awarding a penalty for the challenge, Sanzar’s Citing Commissioner deemed it was worthy of a citing.

A worst-case scenario for the challenge would have been a red card for the Springbok back, which would have meant he would have missed the Sharks’ trip to the Highveld to take on the Lions at Ellis Park.

But, after Steyn pleaded guilty to a dangerous tackle, the judicial officer felt awarding a yellow card was sufficient.

“Video evidence of the incident showed that Steyn executed initially a legitimate tackle on his immediate opponent by grabbing the bottom of [Kurtley Beale’s] jumper with both hands,” Sanzar’s duty judicial officer Jannie Lubbe SC said.

“In the process of the tackle, Beale passed the ball to a team-mate but after the pass, Steyn continued with the tackle by going to ground and swinging his opponent with him. This resulted in the tackled player landing on his back and his head hitting the ground with some force.

“The referee called for a review of the incident and having reviewed the incident, awarded a penalty against the Sharks.

“Mr Gerrie Swart submitted on behalf of the player that the initial tackle was legitimate and that Steyn had no intent of causing injury to his opponent as he was not in a position to observe that the tackled player had passed the ball.

“In assessing the circumstances around the incident, an off-field yellow card was considered the appropriate sanction as a suspension was not warranted for the offence,” said after the ruling.

Waratah Rob Horne, who was cited for a high tackle on Steyn in the same game, was handed a one-week ban, which rules him out of their game against the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend.

White has given his players a break from rugby for the week with this weekend being their final bye of the season.

After the bye, the Sharks will be in action for eight consecutive weeks, during which they will play only three times at home.

Their tour to Australasia will be crucial for White’s table-toppers if they are to go all the way to the title. Their only loss so far this season — to the Bulls last weekend — was suffered in their only game on the road to date.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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