Crusaders' Matera cleared to play in Super Rugby final

·2-min read
Cullen Grace of the Crusaders scores a try during the Super Rugby Pacific semifinal against the Chiefs in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, June 10, 2022. (John Davidson/AAP Image via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Former Argentina captain Pablo Matera has been cleared to play for the Crusaders against the Blues in the Super Rugby Pacific final on Saturday after a judicial panel ruled the four yellow cards he has received this season showed “no pattern of concern.”

Matera appeared before the Sanzaar panel on Tuesday night after receiving two yellow cards in the semifinal between the Christchurch-based Crusaders and Hamilton-based Chiefs on Friday.

The first yellow card in the 20th minute was for team offending after the Crusaders conceded a series of penalties in defense. His second yellow in the 32nd minute was converted to a red by Australian referee Nic Berry and came when his shoulder contacted the head of Chiefs flyhalf Bryn Gatland in a standing tackle.

The judicial panel, chaired by lawyer Nigel Hampton, found there were exceptional circumstances which meant no further penalty against Matera was warranted.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence in relation to the four yellow cards and having considered the evidence and submissions on behalf of the player, together with the surrounding circumstances, the committee was satisfied that there was no pattern of persistent offending by the player which was of concern,” the panel said in a statement.

“Two of the yellow cards were given for technical offenses (that is, not foul play) and those two technical offenses were of a different nature to each other. The remaining two yellow cards again were for offenses of a different nature and showed no pattern of concern.”

There was heavy debate among fans last month when Matera received a yellow card from the on-field referee rather than a red for what appeared to be a tip tackle during the Crusaders' last regular-season game against the Queensland Reds.

The latest SANZAR decision is a major boost for the Crusaders who already are without All Blacks backrower Ethan Blackadder who is injured.

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