Mealamu let off lightly as Scots braced for All Blacks' big hitters

So those darned All Blacks are still to register a loss on Caledonian soil.

When it came to the crunch at the International Rugby Board's independent appeal committee hearing in Edinburgh yesterday, the New Zealanders managed to avoid defeat in contesting the four-week ban given to their hooker Keven Mealamu for launching himself headlong into the cranium of the England captain Lewis Moody at Twickenham last Saturday.

They succeeded in persuading the committee, chaired by Peter Ingwersen of South Africa, that the collision "was not intentional" – and in halving the period of punishment to two weeks to leave Mealamu free to play in the final match of New Zealand's tour, against Wales in Cardiff on 28 November.

It was quite some success, even by the exceptional standards of the All Blacks, who line up at Murrayfield this evening defending an unbeaten record against Scotland in a history of Test matches stretching back 105 years. The Springbok second-row, Bakkies Botha, was given a nine-week ban for a headbutt on the New Zealand scrum-half Jimmy Cowan in the Tri-Nations contest in Auckland in July. Mealamu has escaped with a two-week rap on the knuckles because the three-man committee accepted the strenuous assertion of Steve Hansen, the All Blacks' assistant coach, that it was "not in the nature" of the veteran hooker to do what the television footage showed him actually doing, and that "he hasn't got a dirty bone in his body."

The appeal committee's statement read: "Having had the opportunity to review the video footage, [we] concluded that the act was not intentional and that it merited a lower-end entry point in the IRB list of sanctions, namely four weeks. In view of the compelling mitigating factors and the absence of aggravating factors, this was reduced to two weeks."

This evening Hika Elliot will take the place of the 82-cap Auckland Blue hooker in an All Blacks starting line-up that looks significantly stronger than is usually fielded in Scotland, boasting the likes of Richie McCaw, their captain fantastic of an openside flanker, and Dan Carter, their orchestrator-in-chief.

Carter and McCaw – who, along with full-back Mils Muliana, is level with Sean Fitzpatrick's national cap record of 92 – were both on the bench when New Zealand were last in town. They still emerged convincing 32-6 winners, but Scotland's stock under Andy Robinson has risen too high for Graham Henry to risk a shadow XV. In their last four Tests, the Scots have drawn at home to England, beaten Ireland at Croke Park and won twice away to Argentina.

"It's important that we keep the scoreboard ticking," Robinson said. In their last four meetings with New Zealand, Scotland have only managed to tick over 22 points in total. They will need at least that tonight to have any hope of a historic victory.


election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'