Rare incident sees South African star sent off for pulling opponent’s dreadlocks out

We’ve seen yellow cards awarded for all kinds of offences over the years, but there has been nothing quite like the hair-raising incident in the United Rugby Championship at the weekend.

It happened during Saturday’s clash between the Stormers and the Lions at the Cape Town Stadium.

That was one of two South African derbies which had been arranged after the original cross-continent fixtures involving Cardiff, Scarlets, Munster and Zebre were cancelled due to concerns over the new Omicron Covid variant.

In a first-half which saw three yellow cards, it was the 22nd minute sin-binning of Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe which proved by far the most unusual.

As he attempted to tackle his opposite number Seabelo Senatla, he unintentionally grabbed the dreadlocks of the Stormers speedster.

Van der Merwe immediately let go and raised his hands once he realised what he had done.

But the referee adjudged it to be a yellow card offence, so sent him for a 10-minute spell in the sin-bin.

Still pictures of the incident appeared to show one of Senatla’s dreadlocks having become detached.

It saw the Lions reduced to 13 men, with veteran former Springboks forward Willem Alberts having already been carded.

But even though they had three players sin-binned in all, they went on to win the game 37-19, running in four tries.

That was despite the best efforts of Senatla, who touched down for the hosts to leave them just one point adrift at the break, at 13-12, ahead of a one-sided second period.

It was an eventful contest, with no fewer than five yellow cards in all and seven tries.

No. 8 Francke Horne crossed twice for the visitors, with their fly-half Fred Zeilinga landing seven successful shots at goal.

It was the Lions’ second win of the season in the URC, following on from their victory away to Zebre in September, and sees them installed as the highest-ranked of the South African sides, 10th in the table.

Friday’s derby in Durban had ended in the Stormers defeating the Bulls 30-16, with Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am on the try list for the home side.


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