Waratahs hopeful Kepu will avoid suspension

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are hoping Sekope Kepu avoids suspension when he faces the SANZAAR judiciary on Sunday night.

Kepu was given an official warning over a no-arms tackle on Jordie Barrett in Friday night’s clash with the Hurricanes, this third indiscretion this season.

The tighthead prop has copped two yellow cards already this year, with the warning now his third, resulting in an automatic referral to the judiciary.

Kepu’s two yellow cards, though, came from repeated infringements not individual foul play, a technicality that might help him out.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said they would just have to wait and see on Kepu’s fate, with a review committee hearing slated for 7pm AEST on Sunday.

“Obviously been issued that off-field yellow for that late tackle last night and we'll see how that goes, how that plays out, how that affects us in the Kings match,” he said.

“I’m not too sure the absolute details (of the new judicial process) and two of those yellow cards were team yellow cards in contests.”

Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu said he hadn’t seen the incident at the time but was confident Kepu would be available for their next clash in a fortnight.

“I think he'll be alright because the two yellow cards before that were for repeating infringements,” he said.

“This is the first time he's got cited for doing something like this, so I think he'll be alright with that.”

The Waratahs have a bye this week, but any ban for Kepu would come after that, a shift from recent years where teams could use club rugby games to count towards suspensions.

Beauden Barrett was binned twice in Wellington on Friday night. Photo: Getty ImagesHurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett will also face the judiciary over his red card, after two deliberate knockdown sin binnings in the clash.

Barrett’s 78th-minute knockdown came deep in Waratahs’ attacking territory, with the visitors on the verge of a try that would have narrowed the margin to just three points.

Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps was audibly arguing the point with the referee and Gibson said he was surprised it wasn’t reviewed by the TMO, at the very least.

“All you ask is consistency,” he said.

“It's always been a contentious one whether that would've been worthy of a penalty try,” he said.

“The referee on the field considered that possibility, dismissed that pretty quickly.

“Obviously, you've got to go with the on-field decision and the decision was made, the red card was issued and can't change that.

“All you can ask in these situations is consistency. If a knock down is a yellow card, then issue a yellow card.

The Waratahs aren’t the only Australian team who have been caught up in the knock down conversation - the Reds conceded a costly yellow when winger Eto Nabuli was binned in Argentina, for what seemed a fair tackle.

“I guess somewhere along there, there's a line and as long as it's consistent I have no issue,” he said.

The non-Wallabies Waratahs will line up for their Shute Shield clubs next week, before their Super Rugby campaign resumes.