Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been suspended for three weeks for an incident in the South Africa’s 30-28 Tri-Nations victory over New Zealand at Carisbrook, Dunedin, at the weekend.
Rugby 365 reports that Du Plessis appeared before SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) Judicial Officer Kim Garling at the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) offices in Dunedin on Sunday.
He was cited by Citing Commissioner Dick Byres under Law 10.4 (k) – for contact with the eyes or eye area of All Blacks flank Adam Thomson in the 11th minute of the first half.
The ban – which will rule Du Plessis out of the encounter with Australia in Perth this coming Saturday – leaves him free to play again when the Boks face Argentina in Johannesburg on August 9.
The other two weeks of his ban will see New Zealand and Australia go head-to-head in back-to-back Tri-Nations matches in Sydney (July 26) and Auckland (August 2).
It is a cruel blow for the Boks, who are still without injured captain John Smit, as they head to Perth to face the Wallabies.
Smit injured his groin when he was spear-tackled by All Black lock Brad Thorn in the 19-8 win in Wellington in the Tri-Nations’ opening match on July 5.
Thorn was later cited and banned for just one week – although he and Du Plessis miss the same number of games.
Du Plessis played a crucial role in the Boks’ comeback victory in Dunedin at the weekend.
At the hearing on Sunday Garling viewed video footage of the incident, heard evidence from Du Plessis and received reports from the match referee and assistant referees.
Du Plessis was represented by legal counsel Robin Bates and Springboks manager Andy Marinos.
Du Plessis acknowledged that his fist had come into contact with Thomson’s lower cheek and then, as it rolled across his face, his left hand knuckle appeared to come into contact with the face near the eye area but did not come into contact with his eye.
Television footage confirmed that there was no visible mark to the face of Thomson as a result of this contact.
Bates submitted that the contact was momentary and had come about through a series of factors, including the impact of another player locking Du Plessis’ arm in the ruck as he moved to the ground. He said the contact, while careless, was not deliberate.
Garling determined that there had been contact between the left hand of Du Plessis and Thomson’s face as conceded by Du Plessis. His closed hand had first come into contact with Thomson’s cheek and then his eye area, but not the eye. Garling concluded that the contact was careless and not deliberate.
In delivering short reasons about the incident, Garling said that “any action by a player in which fingers, a hand, or a knuckle comes into contact with the eye or eye area of a
player is very serious and the [International Rugby Board] IRB recommended penalties reflect that because of the potential for permanent damage to the sight of a player”.
He said Du Plessis had conceded the carelessness of his actions at the first available opportunity when the matter came before the Judiciary and had shown regret for his actions.
Garling said this was the first blemish in Du Plessis’ playing career which, apart from his early years in rugby from the age of five, had encompassed eight seasons of professional rugby at a first class level. He was also highly regarded by his peers. Garling said the appropriate entry point for sanction was at the lower end, as the contact, while unacceptable, was minimal.
After taking all the matters into account, Garling imposed a suspension of three weeks up to and including August 3.Tweet