SANZAR judicial officer Terry Willis has removed a red card from the disciplinary record of Bismarck du Plessis.
Du Plessis was issued with a red card after receiving two yellow cards during the Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa at the weekend.
The yellow cards were issued 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 South African Rugby Union has demanded an explanation, after the International Rugby Board admitted French referee Romain Poite made an enormous blunder in the SA versus New Zealand Test at the weekend.
The Springboks’ went down 15-29 to the All Blacks on Saturday after a controversial yellow card for hooker Bismarck du Plessis saw them reduced to 14 men early in the second half, and SARU have asked the IRB for answers.
“I think Jurie Roux [SARU CEO] has already written to the IRB with a formal request about the card and get a response from them,” SARU deputy president Mark Alexander said at the team’s arrival at OR Tambo.
“So we are going to inquire with the IRB what went wrong there, I mean you can’t have Test matches with cards like this as it affects the game.”
Poite issued Springbok Du Plessis a yellow card in the 17th minute of their Rugby Championship match in Auckland for what proved to be a perfectly legitimate tackle on New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter.
He ignored the advice of the TMO and deemed his tackle to have been high and without arms.
On Sunday the IRB issued a statement admitting that Poite had in fact made the wrong decision to card Du Plessis for the tackle.
“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 IRB said.
“All match official performances are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future test matches.”
This will be of little comfort to the Springboks as the decision had repercussions later on in the match when Du Plessis copped a second yellow card in the 42nd minute for elbowing flank Liam Messam in the throat and, which resulted in a red card.
While the first yellow card drew the most criticism from pundits, it was also debatable whether the second incident was worth a card.
“Even the second yellow card is questionable if one looks at how other players also lead with the elbow,” Alexander said.
“We are working hard with our technical officials to deal with the IRB around issues concerning referees. We believe our technical team is on top of things.”
Du Plessis will appear at a Sanzar judicial hearing on Tuesday, which will be conducted via video conference.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said his team needed to put Saturday’s drama behind them and do a post mortem to determine what they needed to improve on for the remaining two Tests.
“The result is definitely disappointing, I felt we played well against Australia and at times we played well against New Zealand,” De Villiers said at the team’s arrival on Sunday.
“But there were definitely certain areas that we didn’t do well at and we need to improve that in the next two games.
“We do need to put that behind us and firstly we need to look at that performance and rectify those mistakes that we made.”
He said it was difficult to gauge the team’s performance against the All Blacks as the yellow cards affected their ability to execute their game plan.
“We are still in a positive frame of mind and we still believe that we can win the competition, so hopefully we can take some time off and come back strong,” said De Villiers.
“It is tough because we didn’t start well and when we thought we got back into the game then the first yellow card. Then we sort of clawed ourselves back into the game again and then Bissie was sent off.”
De Villiers said the Boks nevertheless believed they had a chance to pull the match through after Du Plessis’ send-off, but they made too many errors to match the New Zealanders.
“Defensively we were not good, we slipped too many tackles, we gave them too much momentum and we weren’t accurate in those areas.”