Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)
Auckland - All Black coach Steve Hansen fired back at talk that fans were “robbed” of a rugby contest when Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis was red carded during Saturday’s 29-15 win over the Springboks.
What’s more Hansen believes that Du Plessis deserved a red on its own for the second infringement, where he received his second yellow for an elbow that hit Liam Messam on the chest and moved upwards towards his neck in the collision.
Hansen got angry when South African journalists questioned him on Du Plessis’ card – the first yellow which came from a legal tackle on Dan Carter and was inexplicably carded in the process by French referee Romain Poite.
The second yellow, which came in the 42nd minute, ended the game as a contest and allowed New Zealand to pull away to a comfortable victory against 14 men.
Hansen said he thought it was a “fantastic” test match and got upset when a journalist suggested world rugby was “robbed” of a contest.
“Let’s not go too far with the “robbed” “, he shot back.
“I don’t think it’s legal to go around and put your elbow on someone’s throat. The second one may have well been a red one, without the first yellow.
“If you want to have a balanced look at it, you need to be balanced. All I’m saying is we don’t have any problems with it. It is something that happened, we can’t control it, so we just got on with the game and played it. It was a fantastic contest.”
However Hanson did agree that the first yellow was probably not right, but denied that it had taken away from the contest.
“It was a hell of a match, one that had everything. I was very proud of how we came through it. On nights like tonight you need your big players to stand up and they did, including the captain. But so did some of the younger guys, which is pleasing. The experience they will bank after tonight going forward – I think one or two of them may have put their doubters to rest. I think all of New Zealand can be proud of their team tonight.
“I know there will be lots of questions about yellow cards, but I’ll knock it on the head and say just this: In an intense battle like this you are going to get moments, and the referee has made decisions, and he has to make them in that moment.
“Perhaps Bismarck may have been a bit unlucky on that tackle on Dan to get a yellow card but he probably got the other ones right. We’ve got no complaints, and that is rugby and we have to get on with it and look at our discipline going forward.”
Hansen said the Boks paid the price for their indiscipline, and that the contest was fair.
“I think anybody who watched it could see the intensity, could feel the intensity of the contest. In the end you don’t like seeing it but you pay the price for being undisciplined,” he said.
“We paid it twice (referring to the two yellow cards in the last 10 minutes the All Blacks received), and in the end we ended with 13 men to 14 on the park. While both teams had 14 on the park and 15 on the park it was a fair contest.
“I’d really hate to think this test match is remembered for that. There was a whole lot of other stuff in it that makes it a memorable test match. When you see a Sam Cane, who had a whole lot of question-marks about him, come out and play like he did, that’s something that is worth writing about.”
Hansen was less hard on Ma’a Nonu who received a yellow for a late tackle without arms, and said he would be speaking to the player.
“No not really, he hasn’t had one for us this year,” Hansen said referring to the yellow.
“We’ll sit down and talk to him; we have already started that process. What he did was dumb, so we will just move on and carry on and see what happens from it.”
The Boks are set to host the All Blacks in three weeks time at Ellis Park and it is clear that the return contest will be equally as spicy.