‘Already decided’ – Nick Mallett slams decision to sin bin Springbok Aphelele Fassi for flying kick

Jared Wright
Aphelele Fassi kick on Taine Plumtree and ex-Springboks coach Nick Mallet

The yellow card decision has not gone down well.

Former Springboks head coach Nick Mallett has slammed the decision to yellow card Aphelele Fassi in the Test match against Wales at Twickenham Stadium.

The Bok number 15 was sent to the sin bin after it was adjudged by referee Chris Busby and his officiating team that he had lifted his leg in an unnatural way when returning to the ground after fielding a high ball.

Fassi made contact with Wales flanker Taine Plumtree when he descending to the pitch, and for his actions, he was yellow carded. After the TMO bunker reviewed the incident, it was decided that it did not warrant an upgrade to a red card.

Nick Mallett’s take

Ex-Springboks coach Mallett slammed the officiating team for the decision as he felt that Busby had already decided that it was yellow card before reviewing the incident and did not allow his mind to be changed.

“It’s an interesting situation because Fassi has been fantastic under the high ball – really, really good. He takes another really good one, and he’s slightly off balance there, and his foot is up in the air; he lands on one leg, and the other foot goes up into Plumtree’s face,” Mallett said at half-time on SuperSport.

“Now, the ref here has already decided that it’s a yellow card. He blew his whistle and said ‘That’s a foot in the face and a yellow card.’

“Both of his touch judges come onto the field, and you see that the right leg gets lifted, and it does go a bit high. Any head contact, you’ve got to look at a yellow card, but was that just getting his balance back or was it actually kicking a guy in the face?

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“Well, both his touch judges here, say in our case, we don’t believe it’s a yellow card, the referee said ‘I believe it is a yellow card’ and he said to the TMO, what do you say and Fassi was sent off on the referee’s decision.”

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Ex-Springboks weigh in

Former Springbok hooker Hanyani Shimange agreed with Mallett as he believed that it was just a rugby accident.

“Look, it’s a wrong call that this is where the momentum changed in this game. As soon as he went off, it was a kick to the corner and Dewi Lake scored,” he said.

“I don’t see why [it was a yellow]. Pieter-Steph du Toit asked, ‘Is it deliberate? Do you think it’s deliberate or is it just a rugby collision?’

“For me it’s just a rugby accident. You move on, you play on and that was it, you know, he was quite adamant and then you wanted to prove his point that listen ‘I’ve spotted dirty play’.

“How Fassi could catch the ball, look the other way, kick a guy that’s coming and I just don’t see how the ref sees that.”

Finally, former Bok fly-half Butch James believed that if it was a deliberate act, it should have been a red card and hinted that the TMO bunker’s decision not to upgrade the decision suggested that the on-field call was incorrect as he agreed with the rest of the panel.

“A boot to the face, if it’s deliberate it’s a red card. So it went to the bunker, it stayed as a yellow. So that explains exactly what it really was. It should been penalty only and play on,” he said.

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