22nd Oct 2012 12:37pm | By Editor
Wallabies flanker Scott Higginbotham will miss the first two Tests of their European tour after he was suspended for kneeing Richie McCaw during the weekend’s Bledisloe Cup draw in Brisbane.
Higginbotham pled guilty to the kneeing and heat butting charge, accepting a four match suspension, and will miss matches against France and England next month provided he is selected for the tour.
He was cited after the match for the incident in the 26th minute involving, as it so often does when the Wallabies take on the All Blacks, the All Blacks most-capped player ever McCaw.
The SANZAR judicial officer, Jannie Lubbe, who let Quade Cooper off a kneeing charge (also on McCaw) during a Test in Brisbane last year said the Higginbotham's level of foul play was ‘low level’ and pointed out the AB’s skipper was uninjured and played on .
The Australian Rugby Union released a statement after the hearing describing the knee as " more of a bump than a hit".
The statement added the head butt "was reckless and not executed with much force".
Higginbotham’s clean record was taken into account by the disciplinary committee.
Higginbotham said there were no hard feelings after he and McCaw shook hands after the match.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was livid with the incident, calling it a ‘cheap shot’.
He would have also been disappointed with his world number one side drawing with the Wallabies, who could have snatched a shock win at the death.
The All Blacks have been unbeatable in the Rugby Championship, making Australia, South Africa and Argentina look ordinary, and will likely view the 18-18 deadlock on Saturday as a mere blip ahead of their tour of the UK starting next month.
However, the draw did bring an end to the the New Zealanders run for the most consecutive wins ever.
Image via Getty