All Blacks prop out of Tri Nations after suspension

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Ofa Tu'ungafasi of the All Blacks is sent off during the Tri-Nations match against the Wallabies in Brisbane on 7 November 2020.
Ofa Tu'ungafasi of the All Blacks is sent off during the Tri-Nations match against the Wallabies in Brisbane on 7 November 2020.
Chris Hyde/Getty Images

All Blacks prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi was on Wednesday suspended for three playing weeks for a dangerous tackle in last week's match against Australia, meaning he will miss the remainder of the Tri Nations tournament.

Tu'ungafasi was red-carded for a reckless hit on Wallaby number 14 Tom Wright during the November 7 match in Brisbane, during which Australian flanker Lachie Swinton was also sent off for a high tackle.

The competition's governing body, Sanzaar, had already suspended Swinton for four weeks, and said Tu'ungafasi's lighter ban was because of his quick guilty plea and clean record.

Both players will miss two matches against Argentina, the other team in the Tri Nations series.

Sanzaar said Tu'ungafasi's sanction would include a third match, but it was not clear what that would be as the All Blacks currently have no scheduled games during the suspension period beyond the Tri Nations.

The double red cards in the first half disrupted play in the final Bledisloe Cup match, which Australia won in an upset 24-22, and prompted calls for changes to the red-card system.

World Rugby last year ordered a clampdown on reckless tackles that make contact with the head amid concerns about concussion and long-term brain injuries.

Some high-profile former players have said the red card policy is too strict and disrupts play, suggesting less serious incidents should draw lighter penalties, such as 10-minute sin bins.

But current players and coaches accepted the tougher policy as necessary to protect players.

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