‘Absolutely no idea!’ – Aphelele Fassi yellow-carded for KUNG-FU kick on Springboks return

Jared Wright
Aphelele Fassi kick during the Springboks Test with Wales.

Aphelele Fassi kick during the Springboks Test with Wales.

Springboks full-back Aphelele Fassi narrowly avoided a sending-off for a kung-fu kick on Taine Plumtree during the Test match with Wales at Twickenham Stadium.

Returning to earn his first cap for South Africa since July 2022, Fassi visited the sin bin just 29 minutes into the game.

Aphelele Fassi’s yellow card

Fassi earned a recall to the Springboks squad after a strong season with the Sharks despite the club’s poor form in the United Rugby Championship, playing a significant role in their Challenge Cup success.

That prompted him to be given his first start in his preferred position at full-back, earning his previous caps on the wing, in Rassie Erasmus’ first Test back as head coach.

After a bright start, Fassi’s error in the 29th minute would have left him with his heart in his stomach.

The 26-year-old leapt into the air to field a kick from Wales and beat winger Rio Dyer to the ball, but on his way down, he lifted his leg and he connected with the shoulder of flanker Plumtree.

Referee Chris Busby reviewed the incident with his fellow officials and TMO and judged that Fassi lifted his leg unnaturally.

He was, therefore, sent to the sin bin with the offence reaching the red card threshold; thankfully for the full-back, the TMO bunker judged that a yellow card was sufficient, and he was able to return to action after just 10 minutes.

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Social media reaction

Former England and Sale Sharks winger Mark Cueto slammed the decision to send Fassi to the bench on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“Foul play?? The game is becoming a joke!! Have these officials ever played the game? – absolutely no idea!!!” he wrote.

Another added: “Absolute f***ing nonsense that Fassi got a yellow card. That ref needs to calm the hell down.”

While many felt it was a harsh call, A-P Cronje believed that Fassi was rather lucky not to see red.

“I think bunker review staying yellow is a bit of a let off. I understand that there wasn’t a high degree of danger given where the contact was made – so possibly the right call. But still. Fassi is very lucky. That was reckless,” he wrote.

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