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Former All Black Richard Kahui is free to play the Chiefs after red card is dismissed

Former All Black Richard Kahui will be free to play in his Hamilton homecoming after his contentious red card for a high tackle on Highlanders first five-eighth Mitch Hunt was dismissed.

Kahui came off the bench for the Western Force in the 45th minute of their 61-10 loss to the Highlanders in last Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash in Dunedin.

The 36-year-old outside back was sent off by referee Ben O’Keeffe in the 74th minute after a head-to-head collision with Hunt.

Richard Kahui was sent off last Friday after a head collision with Mitch Hunt.

Joe Allison/Getty Images

Richard Kahui was sent off last Friday after a head collision with Mitch Hunt.

However, he has been cleared to play in Saturday’s match against his former side, the Chiefs, in Hamilton.

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In a hearing on Tuesday night, Sanzaar’s judicial committee said Kahui’s tackle was worthy of a yellow card but mitigating circumstances lowered the incident from a red.

The hearing by Mike Mika (chair), David Croft and Chris Smith ruled that Kahui had lowered himself into the tackle and the contact on Hunt was neither intentional nor highly reckless.

Kahui, a World Cup winner with the All Blacks in 2011 who played 17 tests, has avoided any suspension and is free to play in the final rounds of the regular season.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player, a medical report on the opposition player involved, and having considered the submissions from his legal representative, Michael Tudori, the judicial committee found that the player had not committed an act of foul play worthy of the red card threshold,” Mika said.

“The judicial committee reviewed the case in accordance with regulation 17.16.1 of World Rugby’s regulations and the World Rugby head contact process.

Richard Kahui’s red card has been dismissed.

Joe Allison/Getty Images

Richard Kahui’s red card has been dismissed.

“The evidence and submissions on behalf of the player, together with surrounding circumstances, satisfied the committee that there was mitigation to lower the incident from a red card to a yellow card. Whilst the incident is dangerous, the contact with the head was not intentional or highly reckless. Kahui was shown to be lowering himself for the tackle on the right-hand side of the opposing player when a significant movement from the ball carrier meant that the late change in direction contributed to head contact.”

Kahui was born in Tokoroa and played more than 60 matches for the Chiefs between 2007 and 2013, winning back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

He moved to Japanese rugby in 2013 and played for the Toshiba Brave Lupus for six years before joining the Perth-based Force in 2020.

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