Rugby fans have been left fuming after All Blacks flanker Sam Cane became the first player to be sent off in a Rugby World Cup final in South Africa's epic 12-11 win. South Africa were leading the All Blacks 9-3 in the all-Southern Hemisphere final in Paris.
However, the clash could be overshadowed after a controversial red card to veteran Cane in first half left rugby fans divided. Cane collected Jesse Kriel high with the smaller outside centre bracing for contact as Cane's shoulder made contact with his head.
'GET ON THE PHONE': Wallabies great lashes out over Eddie Jones storm
The All Blacks No.7 was handed a yellow card as the TMO reviewed the tackle. And after a few minutes, referee Wayne Barnes upgraded the challenge to a red card.
Cane cut a dejected figure as his head dropped into his hands after realising he won't be returning to the field. He became the first player ever to receive a red card in a Rugby World Cup final.
The 31-year-old became the first player handed a card in the final since fellow All Blacks star Ben Smith in 2015. The two yellow cards to the All Blacks was also the first time two cards were handed out in the first half of a final.
Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper didn't disagree with the upgrade to a red card, but questioned whether being sent off for the remainder of the match was good for the contest. "I wonder what World Rugby are thinking. Perfect opportunity for the 20 minute red card...contest is completely ruined. It is a red card. He should be off the field."
England great Martin Johnson held a different view. "It is high and never a red for me," he said on BBC Sport. "These things happen." World Rugby has been clear cut for years on head-high tackles receiving a yellow or red card. However, many fans were divided over the incident with plenty claiming being sent off for the remainder of the game was harsh and it ruined the contest. Others felt the TMO had got the call right.
What a joke, that’s a yellow AT MOST. Refs have ruined this game
— Ryan 🇳🇿 (@DMAC_1O) October 28, 2023
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) October 28, 2023
Awful never a red
— Antoine Rigaud (@LeFidjienBlanc) October 28, 2023
The right decision on the Sam Cane red, but so disappointing.
You wait four years for this match & then it’s over as a realistic competition after just 34 minutes#RWCFinal
— Graham Love (@glove931) October 28, 2023
Sam Cane sent off. Yellow upgraded to a red.
Can't have many arguments with that.
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) October 28, 2023
That’s unbelievable. TMO ruining the game.
— Jonny Linehan (@jlinehan9) October 28, 2023
World Rugby - this has descended into a farce. I’ve turned off the game and are done with rugby.
SA, enjoy what will be a very, very hollow victory.
— Tony McAuliffe (@PortCampbell) October 28, 2023
Rugby is broken.
— Hatchet Harry (@karavaninaditch) October 28, 2023
South Africa win Rugby World Cup final
Moments after the break, Cane's opposite number Siya Kolisi was also sent to the sin bin, following a head clash with New Zealand No.8 Ardie Savea. His offence was not upgraded. The only previous card in a World Cup final was a yellow for All Black Ben Smith in 2015, when New Zealand beat Australia to lift the trophy at Twickenham.
That record lasted until just the third minute in Paris, when All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell was sin-binned for a neck roll on South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi. Mbonambi was subbed off injured, as his leg was twisted badly in the ruck, but the bunker decided that was accidental and Frizell returned to the field.
Incredibly, the All Blacks pushed South Africa until the final moment. This is until an All Blacks knock-on saw South Africa win back-to-back World Cups with a 12-11 win. South Africa move past New Zealand as the nation with the most World Cup titles with four after the brilliant final.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.