Star playmaker Quade Cooper will miss Australia’s two upcoming Bledisloe Cup Tests against the All Blacks after his dangerous-tackle appeal was dismissed.
Cooper was challenging the severity of his two-week ban for a spear tackle on South Africa counterpart Morne Steyn in last weekend’s big win over the Springboks.
But, after a marathon six-hour teleconference, the SANZAR appeals committee comprising of Peter Hobbs (New Zealand, chair), Terry Willis (Australia) and Peter Ingwersen (South Africa), ruled against the in-form number 10.
The decision is a crushing blow to the Wallabies’ Tri Nations hopes with the gifted 22-year-old set to miss matches in Melbourne and Christchurch in the coming fortnight.
Berrick Barnes comes into the starting side at inside centre in Cooper’s absence with Matt Giteau returning to his former position at fly-half.
While the Wallabies’ hierarchy always knew there was little to no hope of winning the appeal, the ruling highlights the frailties of the current system which allows players to serve suspensions in domestic competitions as well as in the Test arena.
The judicial officer that suspended Cooper compared his tackle to that of Springboks winger Jean de Villiers in Wellington when delivering his findings on Sunday.
De Villiers was also banned for a fortnight but will not miss a single Test match as he is permitted to serve his suspension in the Currie Cup.
Springboks centre Jaque Fourie was handed a three-week ban for a similar tackle on Wallabies number eight Richard Brown in Brisbane but will miss two provincial games and only one Test match.