SYDNEY (AFP) –
Wallabies forward Scott Higginbotham will miss two Tests after being suspended on Monday for striking All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane.
The two-match ban means he will miss the Wallabies’ first two internationals on next month’s European tour, against France on November 10 and England on November 17.
Blindside flanker Higginbotham was cited to appear before a rugby judicial body and pleaded guilty to two counts of striking McCaw with his knee and head in the 26th minute of the Test.
Duty judicial officer Jannie Lubbe said neither incident was regarded as severe and the knee impact was more of a bump than a hit.
“The head butt was reckless and not executed with much force. McCaw was not injured and play resumed,” Lubbe said in his judgment.
“The player (Higginbotham) has an exemplary disciplinary record and at the age of 26 it was his first appearance before a judiciary.
“The player pleaded guilty and placed on record that he and McCaw shook hands after the match and that there are no ill feelings.”
The case was heard by SANZAR’s (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) judicial body.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described the Higginbotham incident in the Bledisloe Test as a “cheap shot”.
“I saw the head butt. It was another cheap shot on Richie… he seems to get them every week, but everyone seems to miss them,” Hansen said at the post-match press conference.
Saturday’s Brisbane match finished in an 18-18 draw.