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'Absolute disgrace' - Bok fans rage over Eben Etzebeth yellow

By Ian Cameron
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa after the Rugby International Test Match between Australia Wallabies and South Africa at Allianz Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

They may have won the game, but Springboks’ supporters were left more than a little miffed after talismanic lock Eben Etzebeth was yellowed carded for pushing an obstructing player of his way.

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Etzebeth was sin-binned after pushing the Argentinian player out of the road as he advanced towards Emiliano Boffelli, who had jumped to claim a high ball.

Boffelli took a heavy fall, although replays showed that the Puma had collided with another Argentine player in the air which altered his trajectory downward, while it appeared that the player Etzebeth had shoved had little to do with the incident.

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Referee Damon Murphy didn’t see it that way and gave Etzebeth his marching orders.

It was a decision that enraged many Bok fans and feeds into the greater narrative of referee incompetency that has been popular in South Africa since the British & Irish Lions tour in 2021.

Popular South African superfan Jared Wright observed: “I don’t agree with that. Eben has clearly pushed someone but his push did not result in Boffelli landing badly. I don’t know how they got to that decision.”

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Sports broadcaster Matt Pearce wrote: “Look forward to anyone in rugby officialdom being able to justify that yellow card for Eben Etzebeth. Hope it is removed from his record on review.”

The Rugby Balrog wrote: “I really hate criticizing refs, but that card to Eben was one of the craziest calls I’ve ever seen. Carding a guy pushing an obstructing player? Wh… what?”

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“The officials have ruined Rugby Union. The Rugby Championship was decided by officials. Eben gets a yellow card for what? Pushing someone out of his way? World Rugby, your refusal to do anything about this is killing the game.”

Another account wrote: “Yellow to Etzebeth an absolute disgrace… Officials are cocking up the game of rugby. And turning people away from the game … It’s becoming very difficult to watch.”

Dylan Jack wrote: “I cannot explain that yellow carding of Eben Etzebeth. Wish I could, but I can’t. Damon Murphy saw something everyone didn’t.”

South African journalist Brendan Nel took issue with the Australian referee’s overall performance, writing: “Damon Murphy was terrible today. Crucify me if you must as an internet troll. But any ref who gives 6 yellow cards, and 39 penalties doesn’t want a game to flow. This was supposed to be a spectacle. It was the opposite. And Murphy confused everyone. More than once.”

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