World Rugby defends officials in farcical France red card

Benjamin Fall and Beauden Barrett collide (Getty Images)
Benjamin Fall and Beauden Barrett collide (Getty Images)

Cape Town - World Rugby has attempted to clarify the farce surrounding the red card - and subsequent cancelling thereof - issued to France fullback Benjamin Fall in the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington last Saturday.

World Rugby on Wednesday in a statement said the correct guidelines were followed by Australian referee Angus Gardner.

Fall was sent off in the 12th minute of the second Test with France 3-0 ahead at the time after his attempted catch of an up-and-under sent All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett crashing to the ground. France would go on to lose the match 26-13.

Two days later, an independent judicial committee opted to cancel the red card from Fall’s record, stating that he intended to contest the ball and was put off by a slight nudge from All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown.

‘The match official team followed the guidelines correctly and made a decision based on the available camera angles,’ the statement read.

‘Only during the subsequent review by an independent judicial panel, when additional camera angles were made available, was it determined that Benjamin Fall was knocked off balance immediately prior to the challenge and therefore the red card was dismissed.

World Rugby also reconfirmed its guidelines dealing with instances when two players are challenging for a ball in the air:

– If a player is not in a realistic position to gather the ball, there is contact and their opponent lands on their back or side - yellow card.

– If a player is not in a realistic position to gather the ball, there is reckless or deliberate foul play and the player lands in a dangerous position - red card.

According to World Rugby, a player having eyes on the ball is not by itself a mitigating factor when the match officials are determining whether potential foul play has been committed. The primary consideration is whether both players were in a realistic position to regather the ball.

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