Springboks

IRB: Poite needs to ref Boks

Romain Poite (Gallo Images)
Romain Poite (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The International Rugby Board (IRB) has defended its decision to allow controversial French referee, Romain Poite, to take charge of a Springbok Test later this year.

The Boks start their season with a match against a World XV on June 7 (venue to be confirmed but believed to be in Cape Town).

They then tackle Wales in consecutive Tests (Durban, June 14 and Nelspruit, June 21) before concluding the Incoming Series with a match against Scotland in Port Elizabeth on June 28.

The referees and officials for the June Test window were named on Tuesday with Poite scheduled to take charge of the June 14 Test at Kings Park. He will also be assistant referee for the Tests in Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth.

Poite was persona non grata in South Africa last year after he incorrectly gave Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis a yellow card against the All Blacks in Auckland.

The IRB's head of referees, Joël Jutge, defended the decision, saying it's needed for Poite to referee another Springbok Test, especially with next year's World Cup in mind as it's almost certain their paths will cross again.

Jutge told the Beeld website that Poite had publicly admitted to making a mistake and was "punished" by not getting any top level Tests in November last year. The only Test awarded to the Frenchman was a match between Georgia and Samoa in Tbilisi in Eastern Europe.

"The South African rugby public is very passionate, but they know the game. They won't forget the mistake, but I'm of the opinion that he won't feel unwelcome in South Africa," said Jutge.

SARU CEO, Jurie Roux, said they expressed concern about the appointment, but respected the IRB's call.

"We accept the IRB's logical way of thinking. Romain, who is one of the top referees in the world, knows he made a big mistake.

"(But) we have to move on because he will take charge of another Springbok Test in the near future," said Roux.

In the Test at Eden Park in September last year, Poite showed Du Plessis a yellow card in the 16th minute for a perfectly legal tackle on All Black flyhalf Dan Carter.

He then showed Du Plessis a second yellow - and a subsequent red card - for leading with an elbow which connected with the throat of flank Liam Messam.

The Boks fought manfully for close on 50 minutes with only 14 players at their disposal, eventually going down 29-15.

The IRB afterwards released a statement saying Poite was wrong in his decision to give Du Plessis his first yellow card.
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