All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett was sent off for kicking Wallabies’ Marika Koroibete flush in the face as he claimed a high kick during the first half of Bledisloe 3 in Perth.
Barrett looked stunned as he was red carded by Australian ref Damon Murphy in the 28th minute. The All Blacks led 13-0 at the time and under the rules of The Rugby Championship, Barrett can be replaced by another player after 20 minutes. The new rule was brought in to prevent red cards spoiling the result.
The red divided fans and commentators. Barrett leapt high with knee bent then moved his foot out catching Koroibete in the face.
“I think it’s good that we’ve got a 20 minute red card at the moment because it’s certainly not malicious,” said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie post game. “But based on law when you when you field a ball and you kick your foot out and kick someone in the head, there’s got to be repercussions for that.
“I think that decision is probably accurate and the fact it’s only 20 minutes is a good thing.”
“As he went up he ended up having to tilt his body in the air so it’s probably natural for his leg to come out,” said former All Black Andrew Mehrtens on the Stan Sport commentary.
“I thought it was gonna lead to a yellow, and justifiably, but a red? Wow.”
Co-commentator and ex-Wallaby Drew Mitchell felt the ref made the right call.
“I think going through it, it’s direct contact with the foot to the head,” said Mitchell. “Going by the letter of the law that’s constitutes a red card.
“Accidental or not, you reverse this and you say it’s a shoulder, it’s going to be the same outcome.
“It’s a tough one. We’re sitting here thinking it’s partially accidental, but by the letter of the law the referee’s got that right.
Mehrtens added: “In the old system, you would have got a yellow. I think the fact that they know it’s not going to reduce them to 14 men for the rest of the game can weigh on that and then they can have a better look at it.”
Former All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams, speaking at halftime, said: “Obviously, it was accidental at best. In our game we need to protect our players but we need to protect the game as well.”
The decision caused division on social media
That’s outrageous. Absolutely no way Barrett deserves a red card for that (any any card, imo). If that is “the letter of the law”, the law is broken and I feel for the refs who have to apply it #BledisloeCup #AUSvNZL
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) September 5, 2021
Yellow at most. Stupid. Ruining the game #AUSvNZL
— Paul Colgan (@Colgo) September 5, 2021
— Jason Dasey (@JasonDasey) September 5, 2021
You can't kick an opponent in the head… intentionally or otherwise ????♂️ #AUSvNZL
— Christopher Reive (@ChrisReive) September 5, 2021
I'm not a fan of kicks to the head but I'm not a fan of Barrets being sent off either. All things being equal though, still seems a red card for recklessness. #AUSvNZL
— Roy Ward (@rpjward) September 5, 2021
Barrett went straight to Koroibete in the aftermath of the incident to check he was okay, but looked surprised by the decision.