New Zealand captain Sam Cane has become the first player sent off in a World Cup final, being dismissed for a high tackle on Springbok Jesse Kriel in the first half at Stade de France, while his rival skipper Siya Kolisi narrowly escaped the same fate..
Cane was initially sent to the sin bin on 29 minutes but his card was upgraded to red soon after – leading to questions from ex-Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper why World Rugby decided against a 20-minute red card trial for this World Cup.
The TMO told referee Wayne Barnes: “The yellow is upgraded to a red. A high degree of danger – no clear and obvious mitigation.”
The Springboks led 9-3 at the time of the incident and were ahead 12-6 at halftime.
Soon after halftime the game took another huge twist when Springboks captain Kolisi went high on Ardie Savea and was yellow carded – he faced a nervous wait to see if it would be upgraded to red as well, but the TMO decided that while there was high danger there was enough mitigation.
“It’s only just enough but it’s correct in my opinion (but) it doesn’t feel like justice for All Blacks fans who have been denied their captain on a technical issue,” said Stan Sport’s Morgan Turinui.
The decision the upgrade came as a shock to new skipper Ardie Savea while Cane put his head in his hands on the chair.
“That is huge for the skipper of the All Blacks in a RWC final,” said Tim Horan on Stan Sport. “The new laws in the game in the last 12 months it was bound to happen at one of the big matches at this World Cup.
“Youve got to feel for Sam Cane there, devastated on the sideline,” said Morgan Turinui. ‘”By the high tackle protocols and guidelines it’s the correct decision.”
Former Wallabies James Horwill and Michael Hooper agreed that it was the correct decision by Barnes and his assistants. The English referee, in his first World Cup final, was the centre of controversy when the All Blacks were eliminated in the 2007 quarters after missing a key forward pass.
“It was the right decision. It’s a shame it’s happened. The way the game is adjudicated they just needed to see some dip. If there’s any dip from Sam Cane there I think it stays as a yellow,” Horwill said.
Hooper said: “I wonder what World Rugby’s thinking. This is a perfect opportunity for the 20 minute red card bring someone else on. The contest is completely ruined. It is a red card, he should be off the field but you want to see a full quota [of players].”
The 20-minute red card, where the offending player could be replaced by another after 20 minutes, was trialled in the southern hemisphere over the past two years but World Rugby opted not to proceed with it at this tournament.