French fullback Benjamin Fall will be free to play in the third and final test against the All Blacks this weekend after having his red card dismissed by the judicial committee.
Fall's 11th minute red card was the turning point of the second test between the All Blacks and France, which saw the visitors grind away in the 26-13 loss with only 14 players.
The French No.15 was marched for after making contact with All Blacks No.10 Beauden Barrett when contested the ball, with Barrett landing awkwardly on his head.
After reviewing the incident, the independent judicial committee decided to dismiss the red card.
The committee noted that Fall had his eyes on the ball at all times and had no intention of collecting Barrett. They also established Fall only made contact with Barrett because the initial line of his contest was altered by a slight collision with All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.
"This collision then causes the player to lose his balance, stumble and be propelled or pushed towards the path of [Barrett]. By reason of those matters the player's attempt to contest the ball was compromised," a committee said in a statement.
"In our opinion, the direct and proximate cause for that outcome was the result of the player's collision with [Lienert-Brown]. As a result of his collision with [Lienert-Brown] the player was denied the time (less than 1 second) and the space to put himself in a position to avoid a collision with [Barrett] or to contest the ball as he had initially planned.
Barrett is unlikely to play in the third test after sustaining a concussion from the fall, which was taken into account by the committee in their decision. Noting the speed of the play and the lack of intent, the committee rule to decision by referee Angus Gardner was wrong and the red card was dismissed.
"In reaching that conclusion, it is important to record, that no criticism is made of the referee nor, in our opinion, would any be warranted," the statement said. "Unlike the referee we had the benefit of all the video footage, which showed various angles of the incident. Unlike the referee we had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident. In contrast, the referee was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes in the full gaze of the public and without the benefit of all the relevant material."
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