Poite was wrong – IRB
The International Rugby Board has confirmed that French referee Romain Poite was wrong in his decision to give Bismarck du Plessis his first yellow card during the Boks’ clash against the All Blacks in Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship match in Auckland.
Du Plessis received two yellow cards and was sent from the field in the 42nd minute, making the Boks play with 14 men for almost 50 minutes in the game, which many feel allowed New Zealand to win 29-15.
But while the whole of South Africa has been up in arms about Poite’s decision and the fact that it robbed the game of a contest, the IRB have given no indication of any action against Poite.
The world governing body issued a statement in which they admitted that it was incorrect for Poite to issue the first yellow card to Du Plessis.
“Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials, who, having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of law," the statement said.
“All match official performances are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future test matches.”
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The South African Rugby Union has laid a complaint with both Sanzar and the IRB about Poite’s performance, which ensured that the big clash that so many across the world had hoped for, was never a contest.
Poite was muzzled by the IRB after the game, as he needs to testify in the disciplinary hearing for Du Plessis. Requests to talk to the referee were denied after the game as well.
Du Plessis will have to face a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday – an automatic result of his receiving a red card – and will hope that, given the IRB's statement, there will be no further sanction imposed on him.
Sanzar confirmed the hearing in a release they sent out on Sunday. The hearing, to be heard by judicial officer Terry Willis, will be held by video conference on Tuesday
However despite differing viewpoints on the second yellow card, where Du Plessis’ elbow struck Liam Messam in the throat area, the hearing may look at the footage again, although despite New Zealand coach Steve Hansen’s assertion that it could have been red, it would be a travesty if it was seen that way.
By removing Du Plessis from the game, the Boks also had to take off their big ball-carrier Willem Alberts to replace him with a hooker.