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Springboks red: 'It's a quickly made decision, the right decision'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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The match-winning Springboks finished their round one Rugby Championship victory with 14 players after rookie winger Kurt-Lee Arendse – a first-half try-scorer in the 26-10 triumph – was red-carded in the 75th minute after taking Beauden Barrett out in the air.

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An overcooked box kick from sub scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse into the All Blacks 22 with the score at 19-3 left the 26-year-old Arendse, who was making just his second Test appearance, with too much ground to make up to properly contest the ball in the air against Barrett and he instead ended up arriving into the jump late.

His intervention toppled over the aerial Barrett and left the All Blacks out-half landing on his head, giving referee Angus Gardner a straightforward decision to make when he reviewed the footage with his television match official and fellow Australian, Brett Cronan, with the clock stopped on 74:26.

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“Siya (Kolisi), we need to have a look so if you could go back and give space, we will have a full review. Thanks, mate,” began Gardner, who started his review with the respective team medics already on the pitch treating both Arendse and Barrett for the injuries they had sustained.

“I have got a decision. What is the number?” continued Gardner in conversion with Cronan, who answered, “It is No14.”

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On hearing this, Gardner announced: “No14 is never in a realistic position to contest. He has taken out the No10 in the air. No10 has landed dangerously. It’s a red card.” With that, he brandished the red card in the direction of Arendse, who was still lying on the ground being treated by the Springboks medics. “It’s a quickly made decision, it’s the right decision,” reckoned the South African SuperSport commentary team. “He was going at full tilt and realised he had no realistic opportunity.”

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Arendse required five minutes of treatment before he was driven away on a motorised medical cart wearing a neck brace while Barrett was able to walk off the field. The incident was the second lengthy stoppage in the match for injury as proceedings had earlier been halted for more than six minutes after Faf de Klerk was knocked out when tackling Caleb Clarke in the first minute.

There had been much talk about red cards in the lead-up to the Rugby Championship opener as the laws had been altered from last month’s series of northern hemisphere versus southern hemisphere matches.

Whereas a red card last month, as happened when the All Blacks played Ireland in their second Test, left them down to 14 players for the remainder of the match, the Rugby Championship had reduced the red card punishment to a 20-minute period, after which the punished team could bring on a replacement to replace the red-carded player.

This substitution didn’t happen in the case of Arendse, though, as there were just five minutes remaining after he was sent off.

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