The hearing found Tu’ungafasi not guilty of contravening Law 9.12 (striking with shoulder) after he had been cited following the Blues’ defeat to the Crusaders at Eden Park on Sunday. The big tighthead had appeared to strike Scott Barrett in the chin with his shoulder during a ruck cleanout late in the match, and received a yellow card at the time by referee Paul Williams.
The Sanzaar citing commissioner deemed post-match the offence met the red-card threshold and Tu’ungafasi elected to defend himself at a judicial hearing.
No further sanction has been imposed and Tu’ungafasi will be available to face the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday night. The yellow card remains on his record.
“The judicial committee found that it was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the red card threshold had been met,” said chairman Nigel Hampton QC via release. “Nor was the committee satisfied that the match referee was wrong in his issuing a yellow card."
It is understood the Blues presented detailed video evidence showing Tu’ungafasi had entered through the correct channel, had lowered his body, was never off his feet and his first contact had been arm on shoulder.
The decision is a big boost for the Blues who are already without hooker Kurt Eklund who was suspended for three weeks for his wrestling-style tip tackle on Crusader Sevu Reece.
Eklund, who scored two tries in the 43-27 loss to the Crusaders at Eden Park, will miss games against the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
Tu’ungafasi became the fifth All Black to be sent off in a test match last November, when he struck Wallabies wing Tom Wright with his shoulder in the Bledisloe Cup test in Brisbane.