Poite showed Du Plessis a yellow card in the 16th minute of the Test for a perfectly legal tackle on All Black flyhalf Dan Carter.
He then showed him a second yellow – and a subsequent red card – for leading with an elbow which connected with All Black flank Liam Messam’s throat.
The All Blacks went on to win the game 29-15 – a result which led to heavy criticism against the Frenchman, so much so that the International Rugby Board (IRB) even issued a statement admitting Poite had made a mistake.
The hatred from fans towards Poite was so bad that a Facebook page was created to stop him from ever refereeing again. To date the page has over 60 000 followers.
Despite being incredibly disappointed about what happened in Auckland, Du Plessis feels fans are being too hard on Poite.
In an interview with The Star newspaper, Du Plessis refused to criticise Poite.
“I do not expect an apology. I have no doubt that Mr Poite had no ill intentions towards the Springboks or me. It must have been a great occasion for him to have been awarded a Test match viewed as arguably the greatest clash in world rugby. The commentary in the media must have an immense impact on him. I feel sorry for him and I do not want him to be banished from the rugby fraternity or to be viewed as a ‘villain’. I bear no grudges against him and I have no doubt that he tried his best out there on the field,” said Du Plessis.
Du Plessis did admit though that both yellow cards came as a surprise to him and he is convinced the Boks would have won the Test if he wasn’t sent off.
The Springboks’ next game is against Australia at Newlands on September 28