24° London Hi 24°C / Lo 12°C

Linesman dropped for Mitchell yellow card call


Drew Mitchell, centre, recieves one of his fateful yellow cards against New Zealand

Getty Images

Drew Mitchell, centre, recieves one of his fateful yellow cards against New Zealand

Linesman Cobus Wessels has been axed for this weekend's New Zealand-Australia clash due to the bad call that ultimately led to Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell being sent off in the first Bledisloe Cup match last week.

The South African ran the line in the All Blacks' 49-28 win over the Wallabies in Melbourne but was stood down on Wednesday by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for Saturday's Tri-Nations match in Christchurch.

It was on Wessels' recommendation that Mitchell, who was to be sent off in the second half, was yellow-carded for a late tackle on New Zealand flanker Richie McCaw in the first period.

"If anything, it's lucky to be a penalty," IRB referees chief Paddy O'Brien told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA).

"McCaw offloads as he's about to collide with Drew Mitchell, who puts his hands out and pushes him away. So there's no way it's a yellow card offence.

"As a result of that, with the second yellow, Australia went without a player for 30 minutes and that just shouldn't have happened."

New Zealander O'Brien said Wessels had also mistakenly called a lineout throw not straight.

"Assistant referees, we encourage them to intervene in the game but they've got to get it right," he said.

"There were two decisions made which we felt weren't up to the standard required.

"Cobus has been very understanding, he admits that he got it wrong and we're not going to hang him out to dry. He's got to go away and think about that... and hopefully learn a lesson from it."

New Zealander Keith Brown will run the line on Saturday in place of Wessels, who will act as the video referee.

The use of an official from the same country as the home team would not be a precedent for future tests, an IRB news release said.

"The appointment... is owing to the logistical and preparation pressures of selecting a neutral official for Saturday's match," it read.


Free gym pass

Get fit for summer with Fitness First gyms in London

Download a free gym pass from Fitness First today