New Zealand prop gets three-week ban

All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been suspended from rugby for three weeks for his dangerous tackle against the Wallabies this past Saturday.

Tu’ungafasi was red-carded during the first half of the All Blacks’ 24-22 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane after appearing to tackle Australia wing Tom Wright dangerously in the 22nd minute.

A TMO review showed that the 28-year-old’s shoulder had made high contact with Wright and referee Nic Berry decided to send him off.

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Tu’ungafasi appeared before a Sanzaar judicial committee in a hearing held via video conference on Tuesday.

The judicial committee found Tu’ungafasi guilty of contravening Law 9.13: ‘A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.’

The foul play merited an entry point of six weeks, but a 50% reduction was applied due to Tu’ungafasi’s early guilty plea and his clean disciplinary record.

On Monday, Wallabies flank Lachlan Swinton was suspended for four weeks for breaking the same law after his red card in the same match, but was not entitled to the 50% reduction as he had two prior offences on his record.

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In his finding, the judicial committee chairman Robert Stelzner SC ruled the following:

‘Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from the Player and from his legal representative, Stephen Cottrell, by majority decision the Judicial Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.13.

‘With respect to sanction the Judicial Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and has a clean judicial record, the Player was entitled to a full 50% reduction.

‘The player is therefore suspended for 3 weeks, up to and including Saturday 20 February 2021. This sanction includes the Player’s next three scheduled matches as presented.’

Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images