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'Let's return to reality - Ireland must exercise caution'

Irish expectation soars as Andy Farrell's team sweeps all in its path, but cool heads are needed if they are to heed mistakes of the past

Video: Eben Etzebeth confronts Allan Alaalatoa in an angry bust-up

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounter in Sydney had a feisty denouement when a mass scuffle that had Eben Etzebeth and Allan Alaalatoa at its heart broke out in the aftermath of the result-confirming try scored by Makazole Mapimpi for the Springboks in the 71st minute.


With the scoreline 17-3 in his team’s favour, the South African winger held off three Wallabies players to touch down in the left-hand corner and his reaction after the grounding towards Marika Koroibete resulted in the ensuing brawl breaking out when other players joined.

The incident, which carried on at the perimeter wall with supporters within a hair’s breadth of the arguing players, appeared to be calming down only for it to flare up again behind the try line with Etzebeth and Alaalatoa going head-to-head against each other.

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With rival skippers Siya Kolisi and James Slipper both replaced in the match at that juncture, Etzebeth and Alaalatoa were the respective on-pitch Springboks and Wallabies captains and there was no love lost between the pair as both appeared at different stages of their coming together to put a hand on each other’s face during the bust-up.

Eventually, peace was restored and with the clock stopped on 71:01, here is how the officials came to their decision to award the try, yellow card Mapimpi, take no action against either Etzebeth and Alaalatoa, and eventually restart play following the Springboks conversion kick with a penalty to Australia on halfway:

Referee Ben O’Keeffe: Stay away, leave him go. Let him go, guys. Calm down. Everyone away. Let’s go. We’re going to check, guys… We are going to be looking at the try and we are going to be looking at any actions afterwards. Tual, you got a grounding?


Assistant referee Tual Trainini: For me the try is good but after the try is scored No11 Green (Mapimpi) put his hand on No11 Gold (Koroibete) on the ground and there is a mess and I just want to have a look because when No4 Green (Etzebeth) and No3 Gold (Alaalatoa) are facing they touch at the head.

O’Keeffe: Okay, onfield decision try. We will check the afters.

TMO Brendon Pickerill checked the ground of the try and he quickly gave it the all-clear before investigating the footage of what unfolded after the score.

Pickerill: You can award the try, now we are looking at the actions after.


The conversation between the officials became very faint on the audio at this stage before some clarity was eventually restored.

O’Keeffe: I have got a yellow card for Mapimpi, do we need to do anything further about those two players there?… I am still awarding the try and a yellow card 11 Green. Do you have anything else that you want to show us?

Pickerill: There is nothing else I need to show you. There is a lot of pushing and grabbing by multiple players from both teams. It is all started by the actions of 11 Green.

O’Keeffe: So yellow card against 11 Green. The try still stands because the action is always after the try is scored. Are you happy with that?

Pickerill: Yes.

Having reviewed the footage while standing near the Australian try line, referee O’Keeffe then ran towards halfway to pass on his decision to on-field Springboks skipper Etzebeth. He was chased up the field by Alaalatoa, who was told to wait as the official needed to address the South Africans first.

O’Keeffe: Let me explain. This is going to be a yellow card against 11. The try still stands because the action happened after the try. However, when he gets up and holds him on the ground, that starts everything else because of the actions of 11. The try still stands but it is a yellow card and we will restart with a penalty on halfway.

After the match restarted, Koroibete was shown on TV a few minutes later with blood coming from a cut to his mouth and the game ended with a consolation try from the Wallabies to leave the Springboks’ margin of victory at 24-8. It was their first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 2013.


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