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No citing for Jesse Kriel following review of tackle

By Kim Ekin
Jesse Kriel of South Africa reacts during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Scotland at Stade Velodrome on September 10, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Springboks centre Jesse Kriel has not been cited following his side’s victory over Scotland at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille in the opening round of the Rugby World Cup.


The Boks ran out 18-3 winners but some fans and pundits questioned whether a collision between Kriel and Scotland No.8 Jack Dempsey just two minutes into the game constituted a head-on-head contact. Stills from the game that did the rounds of social media seemed to indicate as much but a review of the incident has found that Kriel has no case to answer.

To provide a clearer perspective on what the Citing Commissioner would have assessed, it is crucial to understand that they would have meticulously reviewed all available camera angles in both real-time and slow-motion. The ultimate aim would have been to ascertain whether there was clear and obvious foul play, specifically any instance of head contact.

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TMO Ben Whitehouse, who would have been tasked with alerting referee Angus Gardner should foul play have occurred, is understood to have dealt with it live during the match. Their assessment of the situation was that there was no clear and obvious foul play, which aligns with the standard set for such cases.


The fact that no citing has since been made with the 36-hour window suggests that Whitehouse’s call has been vindicated by the citing commissioner.

Speaking about the incident on Monday, Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said: “We are really comfortable; there hasn’t been a citing (and) I’m pretty sure there won’t be a citing. If it isn’t direct head contact – and it wasn’t, it was tackled on the ball and then he moved up after tackling on the ball. I’ve seen a few stills where people just (show) after direct contact to the ball.

“If you took it a millisecond or a second or two back, you’ll see that he clearly tackled on the ball. So we’re very happy with how it was refereed.


“I think Finn Russell’s call was much closer. Unfortunately, he got injured then, I think that deflected a little bit from the action that he did, but we were happy with the decision that was made.”




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Cam 314 days ago

I am just here for all the salty comments.

Michael Röbbins (academic and writer extraordinair 314 days ago

So sad that ostensible fans of a sport would rather dicker, extensively, about the nature of a millisecond tackle than analyze the actual rugby. I say this with all the artificial piety I can muster: shame on you. Please go do something else with your life than bitch about non-egregious plays resulting in who should be sent off and who shouldn’t. This is one of several ways rugby union is trying to kill itself right before us.

Shaylen 314 days ago

The tackle was on the ball before it rides up. Its what you might call a rugby collision. He didnt do anything reckless or dangerous with his initial action however the result of the collision meant there was head contact so there was alot of mitigation and so it cannot be a citing. Its exactly what we see when players duck into tackles or are going down at the point of the tackle. A high hit occurs but theres mitigation. In the same way there is mitigation here

Nigel 314 days ago

Anybody who still thinks that SA doesn't enjoy horrifically embarrassing bias and favoritism from WR officials must be enjoy the egg on their face. Very sad and not good for the game.

Fraser 314 days ago

This is just a rubbish call and while I can understand Erasmus seeking to deflect attention, his response makes me think less of him. No doubt, a talented individual but the baggage that comes with that increasingly obscures the positives.

There has been no consistency across the games so far and that must surely be an issue that needs to be addressed.

Scotland can have no complaints over the result, but neither can Erasmus complain that SA are increasingly everyone's least likeable team. Most of the reasons for that relate to the culture off the pitch rather than the obvious skills and motivation on the field of play.

Drew 314 days ago

So the head to head happened after Kriel went in for a tackle, hitting the ball during the tackle, then there was head contact?

Law 9.11 dictates "Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others"

Head on Head is dangerous and that is why cards are being dished out, or not as is the case. If it is not dangerous or reckless, the referee should explain it as such.

Why was Scotland Captain Jamie Ritchie turned away when questioning the incident? It should be explained by the referee on the pitch why it is or is not an incident. If the referee did not see anything, a Captain should be able to request a TMO review. Possibly 3 reviews per match, similar to tennis and review if the ball was on the line or out.

Erasmus has said: “If it isn’t direct head contact – and it wasn’t, it was tackled on the ball and then he moved up after tackling on the ball." “If you took it a millisecond or a second or two back, you’ll see that he clearly tackled on the ball."

Contact may have started on the ball, but then heads hits and that is when dangerous or reckless play should be investigated.

Mitigation can then be looked at, but it must be looked at, in terms of issuing a red or yellow card if there was a sudden or significant change in height (nope) or direction from the ball carrier (nope), a late change in dynamics due to contact from another player (nope), and the tackler making an effort to wrap their arms around the ball carrier. (where his arms wrapped around the ball carrier? doubtful when one arm is down by his side.)

A high tackle is called, if a tackler first hits the ball carrier in the chest where he is carrying the ball, and the tacklers arm or head then rises to hit the ball carrier in the head, around the throat, or above shoulder height. Tha would involve the hit starting on the ball, rising to head height, and a high tackle is called.

What is the difference in a high tackle involving head contact and a tackle with a head on head collision?

It is head contact, possible dangerous or reckless play, and should be brought to the referees attention. It is not the TMO's decision to make, it is the referee's. He is the one refereeing the match and needs to make the decision.

Why was it not brought to the attention of the referee?

It should have been brought to the referees attention, quickly look at mitigation, or give a yellow card, for the bunker to look at upgrading it, or let the tackler back on the pitch.

The incident was ignored by TMO and the referee and that is the annoying point. Everybody watching then makes up their own mind as to what happened. A captain should be allowed to ask the question. If it had been explained, it would have been dealt with.

It is these inconsistencies that need to be addressed.

Joseph 314 days ago

Finn Russel pretending to be mortally injured following his hit on Arendse - pure chicanery. His offence was far worse than anything Jesse Kriel might have done but his theatrics got him out of it.

tom 314 days ago

All those pundits that claimed it is a red card - Egg on your face!!

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