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Chiefs star Damian McKenzie banned for rest of Super Rugby season following red card tackle

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

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Chiefs star Damian McKenzie’s Super Rugby season is over after he was handed a three-match ban by SANZAAR for his red card tackle against Reds halfback Tate McDermott on Saturday.


McKenzie was sent from the field midway through the first half after his shoulder connected with the head of Tate McDermott during a tackle attempt in the lead-up to Isaac Henry’s first try in the 22nd minute.

After missing the remainder of his side’s 40-34 defeat to the Reds in Townsville, McKenzie was summoned by the SANZAAR judicial committee, who ruled he contravened Law 9.13: A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.

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By connecting with McDermott “above the line of the shoulders”, McKenzie was found guilty and sentenced to a three-week ban.

The entry point for a mid-range offence, such as McKenzie’s, under Law 9.13 is a six-week ban, but due to mitigating factors, the 26-year-old’s exemplary judicial record and his early guilty plea, his sentence was reduced to three weeks.

It means McKenzie will be unavailable for all rugby up to and including June 19, which means he won’t play in the Chiefs’ final two Super Rugby Trans-Tasman matches against the Rebels and Waratahs over the coming fortnight.

It also means the 27-test All Black will miss out on the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final should the Chiefs qualify for that match, which is scheduled for June 19.


However, the Hamilton-based franchise’s defeat over the weekend leaves them in fifth place, five points shy of a place in the top two.

Had McKenzie been handed a full six-week ban, his availability for the All Blacks test series against Tonga and Fiji in July would have come into question.

A six-week ban would have seen him sidelined for the July 3 test against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland and the July 10 test against Fiji at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

McKenzie would have been free to play Fiji in the second test at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on July 17, but his reduced suspension means All Blacks head coach Ian Foster will be able to select him for all three tests.


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