Jordie Barrett has been cleared of any wrongdoing after he was sent off in New Zealand ’s 38-21 win over Australia on Sunday, leaving him free to face Argentina this coming weekend.
It was feared the All Black’s Rugby Championship would be over if he was suspended as a result of his dismissal for kicking Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete in the face.
Referee Damon Murphy dismissed full-back Barrett after 27 minutes when he stuck out a boot just before landing as he collected a high ball, with Koroibete closing in at speed.
However, a SANZAAR judicial committee found Barrett had not broken Law 9.11 related to reckless play and was thus cleared of any wrongdoing.
The three-person panel concluded Barrett was innocent in the matter, and a statement from committee chair Robert Stelzner read: "He legitimately went up in the air to collect a high ball, when – in trying to regain his balance on the downward trajectory – his boot inadvertently made contact with his opponent's head.
"The accidental nature of the incident led the judicial committee to find that there was no intentional nor reckless act of dangerous play."
Barrett, 24, was one of three first-half casualties for the All Blacks at Optus Stadium in Perth, with captain Ardie Savea and hooker Codie Taylor each also forced off due to head injuries.
Hurricanes star Barrett was the first player to be substituted using World Rugby’s newly trialled 20-minute red card replacement, with Damian McKenzie replacing him against the Wallabies.
Do you think Barrett deserved to have his red card rescinded? Let us know in the comments section.
Chiefs star McKenzie—who is poised to leave Super Rugby at the end of this year—would have been the top candidate to stand in for Barrett if he was suspended from facing Argentina.
However, coach Ian Foster no longer requires such a replacement following the findings of the hearing.
While his boot on Koroibete may not have been intentional, many sections of the rugby community agreed the red card was fair due to the sport’s raised awareness regarding head injuries.
Barrett appreciated he was “super lucky” to be cleared in the end, however:
Speaking to reporters following confirmation he’d been absolved in the matter, Barrett said: “Yeah, I’m super grateful to avoid sanctioning by the panel.
“It was a long process, very thorough. A couple of South Africans and one Argentinian on the panel, they handled it very well.
“The integrity of the process, and I’m just grateful with the outcome and they could see I had no intent to hurt Marika [Koroibete] in the game. He’s a well-respected opponent who I’m happy has come away with no serious injuries.
“Yeah, just super lucky to avoid sanction and excited for the week ahead.”
All Blacks assistant coach Brad Mooar helped put Barrett’s defence together, adding the team was “really happy” with the result and said Stelzner “chaired a really thorough panel.”
Former New Zealand provincial player Steve Cottrell was brought in to lead New Zealand’s legal counsel, which was aided by two experts in bio-mechanics.
Barrett is now free to feature at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast this Sunday if Foster decides to retain him in his XV, having scored the opener in Perth prior to being sent off.
New Zealand currently lead South Africa at the top of the Rugby Championship standings and will attempt to hand the Pumas their third straight defeat in the first of two consecutive clashes.
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