The news that South Africa’s Jasper Wiese’s citing had been dismissed will come as a relief to Springboks fans, but it raises further questions over the application of World Rugby’s Laws.
Wiese was shown a yellow card by referee Matt Carley during South Africa’s 30-17 defeat to Australia last weekend, following a head-on-head contact with Wallaby Samu Kerevi.
The incident occurred late on in the match, with Wiese attempting to clear out Kerevi.
Jasper Wiese has been cited for this clear out on Samu Kerevi
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) September 21, 2021
He was later cited, albeit some 48 hours after the match, with this delay effectively ruling him out of Jacques Nienaber’s squad to face the All Blacks this weekend.
The case was dismissed by the disciplinary committee as it was noted that Wiese’s head contact with Kerevi was “not intentional or highly reckless”, with the “low force, modest speed, indirect contact and the turning motion” from Wiese contributed to it not being deemed dangerous enough for a red card.
Despite this, the incident has drawn criticism from some regarding the application of referee’s rulings given that similar instances of head contact did in fact result in a sending off.
That kind of offence has been a red all day every day in the northern hemisphere for the past two or three years. The surprise was that a NH ref only gave a yellow. https://t.co/R69v5rDn2M
— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) September 21, 2021
This is a joke! Over the ball with no intent to cause harm – world rugby – please wake up!
— Lionel Walker (@lionelwalkie) September 21, 2021
Jasper Wiese escaping sanction for what was a clear red card is just confounding. I honestly can only throw my hands up and admit I haven’t a clue anymore.
Here we have a player who has a history of this type of offence avoiding sanction.
Player safety, who? Never met her.ADVERTISEMENT
— A-P Cronje (@rugby_ap) September 21, 2021
In the case of Scotland’s Zander Fagerson for example, during this year’s Six Nations, it was noted that the lack of physical injury from the player affected was not a mitigating factor in reducing the severity of the punishment.
Nor was it the case for Peter O’Mahony’s red card against Wales in the same tournament.
It all boils down to what constitutes “indirect contact” in the Wiese case. TV replays showed clear contact to Kerevi’s head, but if the crime of head contact is being interpreted differently by different officials, then it opens pandora’s box for far more inconsistency when dishing out the correct sanction in the future.
The Springboks face New Zealand next, and have named their team for the upcoming clash, minus Wiese:
1 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Siya Kolisi (capt), 7 Kwagga Smith, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 9 Faf de Klerk, 10 Handre Pollard, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 12 Damian de Allende, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 15 Willie le Roux.
Reserves: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.