Poite-gate: SANZAR's role in IRB call
SANZAR boss Greg Peters confirmed his organisation played an influential role in the IRB's dramatic and unprecedented decision to call out French referee Romain Poite on his huge blunder at the weekend.
This comes in the wake of the global fall-out over Poite's decision to award the first of two yellow cards against Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis during the Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in Auckland at the weekend.
The IRB said the yellow card awarded against du Plessis for a tackle on All Black flyhalf Dan Carter in the 17th minute of the match was "incorrect." Du Plessis received a second yellow card in the 42nd minute of the match, which meant he was automatically sent off.
New Zealand went on to win 29-15 as South Africa played most of the second half with 14 men.
The IRB said the yellow card decision "was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials".
And on Monday SANZAR judicial officer Terry Willis removed the red card from the disciplinary record of Du Plessis.
Peters, in an interview with this website, said that there was communication with the IRB regarding the referee's error.
He also revealed that Poite will not feature in any of the remaining Rugby Championship fixtures this year.
Although those appointments were made before the past weekend's miscarriage of justice, the real fall-out for Poite may well come when the refereeing assignments for the November Tests are revealed in the weeks to come.
The SANZAR boss admitted they were "as concerned as everyone else" with the events that unfolded at Eden Park the weekend.
And with SANZAR very keen to own up when mistakes are made, they "communicated" with the IRB before the 'Poite was wrong' statement came out on Sunday.
Peters said that while there was "no communication" between SANZAR and the IRB in the build-up to Monday's disciplinary hearing, which cleared Du Plessis, there was contact before Sunday's IRB statement.
"The hearing itself was a totally independent process, triggered once the two yellow cards are issued resulting in a red (erroneously in this case)," Peters told this website.
"However, there was communication regarding the referee's error and appropriate wording around that," he added.
He also revealed what SANZAR role was in the IRB statement.
"The fact that there was a statement, which I understand is a first from the IRB in instances such as this, is in part due to the approach SANZAR takes to incidents where there has been an obvious error in the part of match officials – i.e. open and transparent admission," Peters said.
Asked about the damage done by Poite's errors, Peters pointed out exactly how the referee could have avoided making such a big mistake.
"It was a very disappointing set of circumstances, particularly given that we have extended the TMO protocol globally to allow the referee and TMO to use the technology available to them to enhance their ability to make the correct decision."
He also made it clear that mistakes like these will influence future appointments.
"The IRB is responsible for all appointments and performance reviews for International matches," the SANZAR boss told this website.
"SANZAR has some influence on the IRB appointments panel as it has two representatives – currently Lyndon Bray [New Zealand] and Tappe Henning [South Africa].
"Past performances are taken into account when considering future appointments."
However, there is a major problem in terms of matches involving South Africa and New Zealand.
"There are currently no SANZAR referees that can do these matches, as neutrality is mandatory, and Australia only has one referee on the international panel [Steve Walsh], who is a Kiwi – so [he is] excluded.
"Super Rugby appointments are different, as they are our responsibility and they are merit based without the neutrality requirement."
Peters also revealed that SANZAR will, "through the referee selectors", communicate with the IRB about future Test appointments.
By Jan de Koning
* Here is a clip of THAT tackle!