The All Blacks have suffered a blow in their Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign after first-choice loose-head prop Ethan De Groot was handed a two-match suspension following his red card offence in their 71-3 thrashing of Namibia over the weekend.
De Groot fronted an independent judicial committee hearing in Paris after being cited for a shoulder-first charge on replacement Namibian forward Adriaan Booysen in the 72nd minute of their match.
He was charged with an offence contrary to Law 9.16 (charging without attempting to grasp the opponent).
The prop was found guilty of foul play and after mitigating circumstances were taken into account, he was handed a three-match ban before it was reduced to two on the player’s completion of World Rugby’s Coaching Intervention Programme.
At the hearing, De Groot admitted he had committed an act of foul play, but maintained the red-card threshold had not been met and challenged the Foul Play Review Official’s decision that the tackle was “always illegal”.
The judiciary panel disagreed with the player’s claim and found he was not sufficiently bent at the waist, that head contact had occurred and that the FRPO’s decision that the tackle was “always illegal” was correct because of the lack of an attempt to wrap.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster later claimed the initial contact in the collision had been shoulder on shoulder, and pointed to Booysen’s injury as evidence of that.
The Namibia player suffered a dislocated shoulder from the clash.
Foster also called for consistency in these high contacts at the World Cup.
The All Blacks will now rely on senior prop Ofa Tuungafasi and rookie Crusaders front-rower Tamaiti Williams to cover the loosehead for the final two Pool A clashes against Italy and Uruguay.
De Groot will return for a potential quarterfinal to follow in Paris.
The All Blacks will play Italy next Saturday at 7am in their third RWC pool game.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations