Damian McKenzie was sent off the field in the 21st minute after making late contact to the head of Red’s halfback Tate McDermott whilst he passed the ball.
The incident proved to be a turning point as the Reds raced out to a 33-3 lead, withholding a late Chiefs charge to claim their first win of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
Whilst experts and fans alike have debated the decision, SANZAAR has backed up Nic Berry’s assessment with McKenzie pleading guilty to breaking Law 9.13: tackling an opponent early, late or dangerously.
As the incident was deemed to be mid-range, the All Black was able to accept the three-match ban on account of his early plea and clean record.
“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and submissions from his legal representative, Aaron Lloyd, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.13,” Foul Play Review Committee Chairman Adam Casselden said.
“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level.
“However, taking into account mitigating factors including the Player’s good judicial record and pleading guilty at his first available opportunity the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 3 weeks.
“The player is therefore suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 19 June 2021.”
This will ensure Damian will miss their final two games against the Rebels and Waratahs, along with the Trans-Tasman Final if the Chiefs are successful.
McKenzie suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing Super Rugby for the Chiefs in 2019 and missed out on selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He was renamed in the All Blacks in 2020 after featuring for the North in the North v South match in Wellington.