All Blacks prop banned for shoulder ‘charge’ after Rugby World Cup red card

Jared Wright
All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot red carded for his tackle during the Rugby World Cup match against Namibia.

All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot red carded for his tackle during the Rugby World Cup match against Namibia.

All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot has been suspended for three matches following his red card against Namibia in the Rugby World Cup Pool A fixture.

De Groot has the option to reduce his suspension by one week if he successfully completes World Rugby’s Coaching Intervention Programme.

However, he will miss New Zealand’s remaining pool games against Italy and Uruguay.

Ethan de Groot’s red card

Referee Luke Pearce sin-binned the prop in the 71st minute of New Zealand’s 71-3 victory over Namibia for his no-arms tackle, with the incident reviewed by the Foul Player Review Bunker.

The Bunker upgraded his yellow card to a red.

World Rugby has now confirmed that De Groot has been suspended for the remaining two pool games and can return for New Zealand’s potential quarter-final if they qualify.

De Groot faced an independent disciplinary committee hearing for an offence contrary to Law 9.16: “A player must not charge….an opponent without grasping the player”.

Suspension and mitigation

A World Rugby statement confirmed that De Groot “admitted that he had committed an act of foul play”.

However, he argued that “the red card threshold had not been met and therefore challenged the Foul Play Review Official’s decision that the tackle was “always illegal.”

The statement added: “Having considered all the available evidence, including the application of World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, the submissions by the player and his representative, and all available camera angles and technology, the independent Committee determined that:

i) an act of foul play had occurred;
ii) the player had the opportunity to put himself in a position to complete a legal tackle;
iii) the player was in a dynamic tackling position and, as admitted by the player, he was not sufficiently bent at the waist;
iv) that head contact had occurred, and the degree of danger was high;
v) the FPRO’s decision that the tackle was “always illegal” was correct, because of the lack of an attempt to wrap, and therefore mitigation could not be applied in this incident to bring the sanction down from a red card.”

“The Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play, resulting in head contact, which is six matches.

“However, the Committee granted the prop the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent after de Grot’s “acceptance of an element of foul play and an excellent disciplinary record.”

He has been suspended for the following matches:

New Zealand v Italy, 29 September
New Zealand v Uruguay, 5 October

The player will be free to play in the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-final (if New Zealand qualify) subject to successful completion of the Coaching Intervention Programme*

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