In a particularly brutal and controversy filled Super Rugby clash between the Sharks and the Chiefs, Francois Steyn was red-carded for an illegal tackle on fly-half Aaron Cruden. The rulings that followed have been quite puzzling to say the least.
Steyn was one of three players to be sent off during the ill-tempered affair, and subsequently also the third to receive a ban – however the circumstances are somewhat bizarre.
His teammate Bismarck du Plessis was dismissed from play having struck an opponent intentionally with his boot, he was cited and the review resulted in a four match suspension.
The process for Steyn’s examination and reprimand didn’t quite follow the same pattern however.
Having played a significant part in a dangerous tackle on Aaron Cruden, the South African’s actions were extensively scrutinised by the TMO and referee during a lengthy stoppage, which included the TMO trying to dissuade the referee from taking too stringent a view.
Referee Angus Gardner went with his gut though, and Steyn was sent from the field.
As was the case with du Plessis, the body which operates Super Rugby, Sanzar, cited the Sharks player and were presented with a decision over whether his actions deserved a ban.
Officer Jannie Lubbe determined that Steyn, whilst involved with the tackle, was not directly responsible for the result and that the force of two teammates entering the contest resulted in Cruden’s awkward landing.
Having been cleared of all wrongdoing, and his red card being rescinded, it appeared Steyn’s case was over – however, in a somewhat curious twist, Sanzar appealed against their own ruling.
Following this turnaround, an official statement from SANZAR stated:
“The Appeals Committee unanimously upheld the appeal brought by Sanzar and found that Steyn breached Law 10.4 (j) and that the referee was correct to red card the player.”
Further to re-awarding Steyn with his previously repealed sending off, they also decided that the appropriate sanction would be four weeks, and taking into account the Sharks’ bye in Round 11 banned Steyn for five weeks, saying he is unable to compete in any form of the sport up to and including the 3rd of May 2015.
Do you think the incident deserved the red-card and a ban?