All Blacks lock Scott Barrett banned 3 weeks after red card

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks lock Scott Barrett has been banned for three weeks after a long judicial process following his red card in the first Bledisloe Cup test against Australia last weekend in Perth.

Barrett pleaded guilty when he first appeared before a judicial committee on Sunday but the tribunal, chaired by Australian lawyer Adam Casseldon, adjourned to seek further information before releasing its verdict on Tuesday.

Casseldon said the committee was presented with extensive evidence of Barrett's intended playing schedule before imposing a sanction that ruled him out of all rugby up to and including Sept. 1. It means Barrett should be available for the World Cup, which starts later next month in Japan.

Barrett became only the fourth All Blacks player sent off in a test in 114 years when he was dismissed by French referee Jerome Garces for a no-arms tackle on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper just before half-time in last Saturday's Bledisloe Cup game.

Garces also sent off Sonny Bill Williams during New Zealand's 2017 series against the British and Irish Lions.

His decision during the Wallabies 47-26 win on Saturday was met with mixed reaction, including from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika who described the red card as "disappointing" despite admitting the referee was following World Rugby protocols regarding contact with the head of an opposing player.

"I love to play the game tough," Cheika said. "It's disappointing, for me, that a player gets sent off like that but referees have been given guidelines."

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Garces, he said, "went through the guidelines exactly how he needed to and he made the decision that he was required to make.

"So I'm sort of torn, both sides. They went through the regulations and got what should have happened, but I feel for the opposition player as well."

England coach Eddie Jones, an Australian, described the ruling as "ridiculous." Jones said there were two similar incidents in Saturday's test between England and Wales which resulted only in penalties and he called for consistency from referees at the World Cup.

"In the World Cup, if you lose a player through a red card as New Zealand did, it makes the game very difficult," Jones said. "I urge World Rugby ... to get some consistency in that area because otherwise, we will have games being destroyed by an inconsistent official making a decision on a law that's not clear."

Casseldon said the committee reached its decision "having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from (Barrett's) legal representative, Stephen Cottrell."

He said the committee deemed the offense merited a penalty of six weeks but reduced the suspension to three weeks after taking into account mitigating factors, including Barrett's "exemplary" judicial record.

Barrett will miss Saturday's second Bledisloe Cup test at Auckland but will be available for New Zealand's last World Cup warm-up match against Tonga on Sept. 7.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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