Rassie Erasmus defends Jessie Kriel’s ‘ball tackle’

South Africa's director of rugby has downplayed the controversial tackle by the men in green and gold's outside centre.

Rassie Erasmus is confident that Jesse Kriel won’t get cited for his tackle on Scotland No eight Jack Dempsey in the opening-round World Cup clash yesterday.

The Springboks opened their Rugby World Cup title defence with an 18-3 victory over Scotland in Marseille, after taking a narrow 6-3 lead into half-time.

During a closely contested first half, Scotland felt that Kriel should have been given his marching orders, as the midfielder appeared to make head-on-head contact in a tackle on Scottish back-row Dempsey.

England’s loose forward Tom Curry had a yellow card for a similar-looking tackle upgraded to a red by the Foul Play Review Bunker during their opening-round win over Argentina.

Erasmus was asked about Kriel’s tackle during an online media briefing this afternoon.

“We are comfortable that they haven’t cited him and we are very sure that there won’t be a citing,” Erasmus said.

“There definitely wasn’t head-on-head contact, it was a tackle on the ball. He moved up after making the tackle on the ball.

“I’ve seen a few stills where that were taken just after Jesse made direct contact on the ball. You can make any tackle like that look really bad. If you look a millisecond or a second or two back, you will see that he clearly tackled on the ball.

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“So, yeah, we are very happy with how it was refereed. We are happy with the decision that was made. I will be very surprised that, with first contact on the ball, there will be anything from that.”

Erasmus added that he felt Scotland fly-half Finn Russell’s shoulder charge on Kurt-Lee Arendse, which left the Springbok wing with a cut on the head, was ‘much closer’ to head contact.

Next up for the Springboks is a match against minnows Romania in Bordeaux on Sunday.

Read original story on www.sarugbymag.co.za

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