New Zealand’s Scott Barrett free to play in Rugby World Cup opener after an independent judicial committee decided no further action was required after his sending off against South Africa

Scott Barrett is available for New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup opener against France on September 8 after avoiding a ban following his red card against South Africa.

The second row received the second of two yellow cards – automatically upgraded to a red – in the 38th minute of the two sides’ final World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham for a reckless clearout on Springboks’ hooker Malcolm Marx at a ruck.

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He became the first All Black to be sent off in internationals twice following his 2019 dismissal against Australia.

Referee Matthew Carley referred the clearout incident to the Foul Play Review Officer (FRPO) in ‘the bunker’, who decided that it did not meet the red card threshold on its own.

And an independent judicial committee on Monday agreed with the in-match official’s ruling.

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“New Zealand’s Scott Barrett is free to play after an independent judicial committee decided that his ordering off in the RWC 2023 warm-up match against South Africa on August 25, 2023, was sufficient and that no further sanction was necessary,” a World Rugby statement read.

The report from the hearing said that the second yellow, which led to the red, was described in match officials’ report as, “a tackle made on the ball carrier”.

“The TMO decided that the incident met the yellow-card threshold and referred the incident to the referee.” 

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Carley agreed with the TMO, triggering an automatic upgrade to a red card for Barrett, and referred the incident for further examination.

How Scott Barrett escaped ban

The FPRO deemed it to be a yellow card because there was not a high degree of danger, the officials’ report to the committee said.

“The footage was consistent with those descriptions,” the committee ruled. “So far as the second yellow card was concerned, it did show that the ball had not left the ruck before the player joined the ruck. The player joined the ruck at a reasonable speed.”

The All Blacks lost the match 35-7, suffering the heaviest defeat in their entire history and blowing up their World Cup plans just a fortnight from the start of the tournament.

Scott Barrett escaped a ban but had he not – he faced a suspension of between two and six weeks – and New Zealand would have had just two second rows available for the match against hosts France. 

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