Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Du Plessis free to hunt for revenge at Ellis Park

The Springboks have the luxury of playing their two remaining Rugby Championship tests at home and Bismarck du Plessis is likely to be available for the final and more important one - a potential series decider against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on October 6.

The International Rugby Board's surprisingly quick review and statement that the hooker should not have received a yellow card from referee Romain Poite for his tackle on Dan Carter in the All Blacks' victory at Eden Park suggests little or no action will be taken against him following his hearing today.

A case could be made that his elbow to the throat of Liam Messam early in the second half deserved a red card on its own, rather than a second yellow, but even if the IRB rule on that he is likely to get off.

The sanctions for striking with the elbow range from two to more than nine weeks, depending on the severity, but given the amount of time he spent on the sideline in the first half, and the usual discounts for good behaviour that are generally made in these cases, the IRB is unlikely to add insult to du Plessis' injury.

"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 between New Zealand and South Africa in Auckland on Saturday," the IRB release stated.

"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."

Where this leaves Poite's short-term career prospects is unclear, but he is likely to be dropped down the referees' pecking order following his high-profile error in ruling the tackle, which resulted in a shoulder injury for Carter, was high and made without the use of arms.

What is more certain is that the Boks will use the sense of grievance at the decision, which effectively robbed them of their best player, against the All Blacks at Ellis Park.

The Springboks, unbeaten in the championship until the weekend, had arrived in New Zealand confident they could beat the All Blacks here for the first time since 2009 and at Eden Park for the first time since 1937.

Skipper Jean de Villiers and coach Heyneke Meyer refused to blame Poite's actions for their 29-15 defeat, but privately will be thinking otherwise. They will be looking forward to setting the record straight on October 6 with du Plessis leading the way.

- APNZ

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