CJ Stander was last night handed a one-week suspension, leaving him out of this Saturday’s second Test with South Africa.
Stander, who has 48 hours to appeal the decision, learned his fate after a lengthy disciplinary hearing spanning two days in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Stander was brought in front of independent judiciary officer Terry Willis for the second time in as many days yesterday following his controversial red card for dangerous play on Springboks’ fly half Pat Lambie in the 23rd minute of last Saturday’s opening Test at Newlands.
He had spent five hours in front of Willis, the same judiciary officer who suspended Sean O’Brien from last November’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, in Cape Town on Sunday before the hearing was adjourned and the Munster back row was called back in Johannesburg at 2pm yesterday afternoon.
Despite the hearing concluding in the early evening the Irish management were left waiting to learn Stander’s fate as Willis deliberated, finally releasing his verdict at 7:30pm Irish time. The head coach will not fly out a replacement as cover, relying on his existing squad to cover for the absent Stander at Ellis Park this weekend before the back rower becomes available once again for the third and final Test in Port Elizabeth the following Saturday.
Schmidt, who was not available for comment, had called the sending off by French referee Mathieu Raynal “very very harsh”.
The Irish boss was on Sunday made the subject of interest from the Highlanders over their head coaching vacancy next summer, when his IRFU contract expires in 12 months. The Super Rugby franchise’s chief executive is understood to have approached the Ireland head coach via phone, asking the former Blues assistant coach to meet when he returns to his native New Zealand on holiday at the end of this tour.
Schmidt has more pressing matters with a second Test against the Boks looming at Ellis Park on Saturday although he received good news on the fitness front with no fresh injury concerns following last Saturday’s epic 26-20 Test win, the first by an Irish side on South African soil.
Captain Rory Best and wing Keith Earls suffered some cramp but will be available to train today, the first session of the week, with the players undertaking recovery in the pool yesterday.
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