Bismarck 'cleared' by SANZAR
SANZAR judicial officer Terry Willis has removed a red card from the disciplinary record of Bismarck du Plessis.
It comes in the wake of the International Rugby Board announcement that French referee Romain Poite was "wrong" to issue the first yellow card to Du Plessis during a crunch Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at the weekend.
Du Plessis was issued with a red card after receiving two yellow cards – in the 17th and 42nd minutes of the match at Eden Park in Auckland.
The judicial hearing was held via teleconference on Monday.
The Australia official, Willis, granted an application made by Gerrie Swart – who appeared on behalf of the player – for an expedited hearing.
The hearing was originally fixed for Tuesday, September 17.
At the hearing Willis was assisted by former professional player David Croft from Australia.
Submissions were made on behalf of the player and the video footage was reviewed.
The judicial officer found that the decision made by Referee Romain Poite to issue a yellow card as a result of the tackle by Du Plessis on Dan Carter (in the 17th minute) was wrong, as it was within the Laws of the Game.
No further sanction was imposed on the player, however the second yellow card remains on his record for the remainder of The Rugby Championship.
The IRB paved the way for Du Plessis to be cleared when they said on Sunday that Poite was wrong to issue the first yellow card.
New Zealand won the top-of-the-table Rugby Championship clash 29-15 in Auckland, after the Bok hooker was automatically red-carded following the second yellow card.
The win put the All Blacks four points clear of the previously unbeaten Springboks with two matches to play in the championship.
"Following an initial review, the IRB confirms that it was incorrect for referee Romain Poite to issue a yellow card to Bismarck du Plessis in the 17th minute of the Rugby Championship match," the sport's governing body said in a statement.
"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.
"All match official performances are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future test matches."
The Springbok hooker's dismissal early in the second half reduced the South Africans to 14 men and denied them their two most influential forwards for the remainder of of the match – as Willem Alberts also had to depart the scene to allow for another hooker, Adriaan Strauss, to take to the field, as required by IRB regulations.
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, who injured his shoulder in the crunching tackle, will be sidelined for up to six weeks, ruling him out of the rest of the competition.
Although the Springboks refused to debate the yellow card after the match, Carter tweeted that he felt the tackle was fair, and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said du Plessis was "unlucky" with the ruling.
* Here is a clip of THAT tackle!