Rugby: Wallaby Cooper's ban stands

Wallaby first five-eighth Quade Cooper. Photo / Getty Images
Wallaby first five-eighth Quade Cooper. Photo / Getty Images

Quade Cooper has lost an appeal against a two-match suspension, ruling the Wallabies first five-eighth out of Bledisloe Cup rugby tests against the All Blacks in Melbourne and Christchurch.

The penalty imposed by Sanzar's New Zealand citing commissioner Bruce Squires QC was upheld last night following a 4-1/2 appeal committee hearing held via teleconference.

The Australian Rugby Union attempted to have the New Zealand-born five-eighth's suspension overturned - or at least reduced - in a bid to free Cooper to play at Etihad Stadium here on Saturday and in Christchurch seven days later.

Cooper was penalised and yellow carded for a dangerous lifting tackle on Springboks counterpart Morne Steyn during the Wallabies' 30-13 victory in Brisbane last Saturday.

He was referred to the judiciary by Sanzar's New Zealand citing commissioner Steve Hinds and his subsequent ban was in line with the two-week suspension South Africa's Jean de Villiers received for a lifting tackle on All Blacks wing Rene Ranger in Wellington on July 17.

The appeal was considered by a Sanzar panel comprising chairman New Zealand's Peter Hobbs, Terry Willis, of Australia, and Peter Ingwersen, of South Africa.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was philosophical after the verdict was issued.

"You prepare as well as you can and you're hopeful ... but it wasn't to be."

Asked whether suspensions should be specific to the competition, Deans suggested that would be a more equitable outcome.

De Villiers missed last weekend's test in Brisbane and a Currie Cup game while Jacque Fourie, who was banned for four weeks for a lifting tackle during the first half in Brisbane, misses only one international and three domestic games because of the competition's schedule.

Deans said the onus was on players not to put themselves at the mercy of the judiciary.

"The critical message for Quade and another player is once you get into this arena you lose control of your destiny," he said.

A disappointed Cooper, who was looking forward to his first test start against the All Blacks, said he would spend the down time refining his tackling style.

"It'll be pretty tough watching from the sidelines," he said.

"You've got to learn from it obviously and hopefully I don't get in that position again. I'll be working on technique over the next few weeks."

Matt Giteau has been named to replace Cooper at first five-eighth while Berrick Barnes has been promoted from the reserves bench to play at second five-eighth on Saturday.

- NZPA

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