The All Blacks have been left a player down for 20 minutes after a moment that has divided the rugby world right down the middle.
All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett was sensationally shown a red card after his boot came into contact with Wallabies star Marika Koroibete’s face while catching a bomb during the Kiwis’ 38-21 win in Perth.
The All Blacks had opened up a 13-0 lead after 27 minutes in the final Bledisloe Test, having already secured the trophy for yet another season.
Kayo is your ticket to the best local and international sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now >
Australia’s Noah Lolesio had missed a kick from nearly in front as the All Blacks had to drop out from the 22. Tom Banks received and kicked it high back to New Zealand when Barrett jumped up to collect the bomb.
Koroibete went to compete for the catch too but reeled out of the play clutching his face. Upon replay, it was clear Barrett’s foot came in contact with Koroibete’s face.
But the decision to issue a red card to Barrett divided the rugby world as social media erupted over the decision.
Initially in the commentary box, the callers said it was likely to be accidental and appeared to be leaning towards a yellow card.
Wallabies great Drew Mitchell said: “You’re taught to do exactly what he did here but it’s the kick out here that they’d be looking at. Not particularly necessary but could be deemed accidental.”
All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens added that “he (Barrett) had to tilt his body in the air so it’s probably natural for his leg to come out”.
Referee Damon Murphy ordered Barrett from the field, even though the kick appeared accidental and the fullback was quick to check on the welfare of Koroibete, who himself was red-carded in the final game of Australia’s recent Test series with France.
Mehrtens thought it may be a yellow card, but was stunned when it was red.
Mitchell added: “Going through it, direct contact with the foot to the head, going by the letter of the law, that constitutes a red card, accidental or not. It’s a tough one, we’re all sitting here thinking it’s partially accident but by the letter of the law, the referee has got that right.”
This type of incident has been seen in other codes previously with NRL legend Billy Slater cleared over an ugly kick out during his career, while Giants star Toby Greene has copped criticism previously for the act.
However, it was clear two camps had formed with some believing you can’t kick someone in the face regardless of the circumstances.
Under Rugby Championship rules, a red carded player can be replaced after halftime.
The Wallabies couldn’t capitalise though, as the All Blacks opened up an 18-0 lead at the break.
The Wallabies did fight back in the second half but couldn’t get close enough, falling to a 38-21 loss and being swept in the Bledisloe Cup.
The All Blacks have now lifted it for 19 straight years.