Ireland will fight any further sanction for CJ Stander after head coach Joe Schmidt described the flanker’s red card as “very, very harsh”.
The South African-born flanker received his marching orders 22 minutes into his side’s 26-20 win over South Africa for a dangerous challenge on his former under-20 team-mate Pat Lambie after which the out-half needed a stretcher. Stander is facing a ban that could rule him out of the rest of the series.
Despite playing for 48 minutes with 14 men and another 10 minutes with 13 men when Robbie Henshaw was sin-binned, Schmidt’s side secured a first win for Ireland over the Springboks on South African soil with an impressive performance.
The coach said he was immensely proud of his players and he hopes that the authorities will look favourably on Stander’s red card when he goes before a disciplinary hearing later this week.
“We’d love to have him available, we’re going to find out in the next couple of days what, if any, consequences there are from his attempted charge-down,” he said.
“So, we’d be delighted to get him back if that’s possible. If we don’t, this is a 32-man squad, there are 32 players working to try and be selected and it means somebody else will step up and fill the breach.
“I thought the red card was very, very harsh to be honest. CJ’s got both hands extended, once you’re in the air you can’t change your trajectory.
“The one thing I would say, I think Pat Lambie’s a super player, I certainly hope that Pat’s OK. I know CJ and Pat are friends, and that they know each other.
“CJ was upset that Pat was hurt as much as he was upset that he had to leave the field. It’s one of those thing that happens. I think, sometimes, when there is an injury like that, the consequence is that a card comes out and that was the result.”
Lambie will miss the second Test as a result of the concussion he suffered and Schmidt is expecting a step up in intensity at altitude in Johannesburg next Saturday.
Yet he could reflect on a proud day for his players.
“It’s pretty hard to put into words really,” he said. “I thought it was an incredibly collective effort. The nine minutes before half-time when we were down to 13 players, to just put them out in the corner, just to scramble and work as hard as the players did to keep them out.
“There was almost a direct repeat at the end of the second half again. To their attacking left hand corner, we managed to scramble across and three for four players turned up to avoid the try being scored.
“For the players, I think they can be incredibly proud of the effort they put in.”
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee praised Ireland’s performance, but conceded that his side had not been good enough on the first game of his tenure.
“I’m very, very disappointed in both the performance and the result,” he said. “It is hurting, it’s not an ideal start but as a collective we take responsibility for that.
“We have disappointed ourselves, but I also have to give credit to the Irish. With 14 men they were outstanding, no excuses we were poor and we know we’ve got to fix it and we’ve got to come back into this series next week.
“We do accept full responsibility for our performance tonight.”
ESPN.com – RUGBY