French red card dismissed by World Rugby

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

France fullback Benjamin Fall will have his red card from the second June Test rescinded, after a commitee review.

Fall was sent off in the 11th minute of France's 26-13 loss to New Zealand in Wellington for tackling a player in the air, when competing with All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett for a high ball.

Barrett was concussed and is likely to miss the next Test from the injury. 

It was controversial at the time, and an independent World Rugby committee consisting of Adam Casselden, David Croft and John Langford.

In its decision, the committee deemed that Fall's run-in with All Blacks outside centre Anton Lienert-Brown had forced him into a dangerous position when competing with Barrett.

"The line that the player is running is then altered by his collision with NZ #13," the committee's media statement read.

"This collision then causes the player to lose his balance, stumble and be propelled or pushed towards the path of NZ #10.


🔴 Right call on Benjamin Fall’s send off? #NZLvFRA

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By reason of those matters the Player’s attempt to contest the ball was compromised.

"In our opinion, the direct and proximate cause for that outcome was the result of the player’s collision with NZ #13.

As a result of his collision with NZ #13 the player was denied the time (less than one second) and the space to put himself in a position to avoid a collision with NZ #10 or to contest the ball as he had initially planned."

The committee was quick to jump to the defence of referee Angus Gardner, despite contradicting his decision.

“Therefore, having regard to the totality of the evidence, the Judicial Committee was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the referee’s decision to issue the red card was wrong," the statement read.

"In reaching that conclusion, it is important to record, that no criticism is made of the referee nor, in our opinion, would any be warranted.

"Unlike the referee we had the benefit of all the video footage, which showed various angles of the incident.

"Unlike the referee we had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident.  In contrast, the referee was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes in the full gaze of the public and without the benefit of all the relevant material.

“Accordingly, the red card is dismissed and the Player is free to resume playing rugby immediately. We direct World Rugby to expunge the Ordering Off (red card) from the Player’s disciplinary record.”