Richie McCaw could miss the Rugby World Cup final if he is deemed to have deliberately elbowed Francois Louw in New Zealand’s 20-18 victory over South Africa.
The All Blacks captain struck Louw on the forehead 20 minutes into yesterday’s semi-final at Twickenham, sending the openside flanker reeling with a blow that is sure to interest the citing officer.
Louw finished the match with two wounds to his forehead requiring a total of 20 stitches. When asked how he incurred the cuts, the Bath flanker said: “I’m not sure, I think it was at the bottom of a ruck.”
Striking with the elbow – which falls under law 10.4a of dangerous play and misconduct – has a low end sanction of a two-week suspension.
The citing officer has up to 36 hours after the match has ended to lodge a complaint, setting 6am on Monday morning as the deadline.
New Zealand will face either Australia or Argentina in the final with their Rugby Championship rivals meeting at Twickenham today.
Schalk Burger, meanwhile, shouldered the responsibility for South Africa’s World Cup exit. The Springboks flanker lost possession before Beauden Barrett raced home for the decisive score.
“We lost too many lineouts and that certainly didn’t help, it created pressure and made us defend more,” said Burger.
“But there were so many variables and other mistakes. One was me carrying and losing the ball in our own 22: they scored seven points directly from that and that turned the match.
“It’s not only the lineouts, that was my mistake. We created opportunities today, unfortunately we couldn’t take them.
“I’ve seen this movie before and it’s bloody horrible.”
South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer refused to address his future with the Springboks. Meyer told journalists “you’ll have to ask SA Rugby” when quizzed on whether he had been offered a new contract.
“I’ve just said I’m here to serve and whatever it takes. I really believe I can do it. I’m always there to serve.”
The South Africa boss admitted contesting the World Cup’s third-place play-off instead of the final would feel “like kissing your sister”.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised McCaw. “We’ve probably got the greatest skipper in the game, and probably the greatest player we’ve ever seen,” Hansen said.