WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The red card that saw French fullback Benjamin Fall sent off in the second Test against New Zealand was cancelled Monday by a World Rugby judicial committee.
Fall's dismissal, following a mid-air collision which left All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett concussed, came 12 minutes into Saturday's Test in Wellington that New Zealand won 26-13. The red card was criticised by the All Blacks management and players who said the collision which sent Barrett head first into the ground was accidental.
The judicial panel, headed by Australian Adam Casselden, said that after reviewing all the evidence it was agreed to cancel the card. Video footage showed Fall at all times "had his eyes on the ball whilst it was in the air, which showed, in our opinion, a clear intention, on the part of the player, that he intended to contest it," the committee found.
It said Fall had collided with All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown just before leaping for the ball and that had caused him to lose his balance. By running into Lienert-Brown, Fall "was denied the time and the space to put himself in a position to avoid a collision" with Barrett.
"We did not consider that the player's actions, in the circumstances of this case, were deliberate or reckless." Because of his head knock, Barrett is unlikely to play in the third and final Test in Dunedin next weekend.