All Black prop Tu’ungafasi suspended for three weeks

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All Black prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been handed a three-week suspension for his high tackle on Australia winger Tom Wright.

Tu’ungafasi was called to appear before a disciplinary committee after being sent off in the All Blacks defeat to the Wallabies over the weekend.

Tu’ungafasi red card upheld by SANZAAR Judicial Committee

The prop forward has been suspended for the remainder of the Tri Nations Rugby Championship and will miss the first weekend of the 2021 Super Rugby season.

“A SANZAAR Judicial Committee Hearing has found Ofa Tu’ungafasi of New Zealand guilty of contravening Law 9.13: A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously, after he was issued with a Red Card during a Tri Nations match at the weekend,” a SANZAAR notice read.

“Tu’ungafasi has been suspended for 3 weeks, up to and including Saturday 20 February 2021.

“Tu’ungafasi made high contact with Australia #14 Tom Wright during the match between Australia and New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday 7 November 2020.

“The SANZAAR Judicial Committee Hearing held via video conference on Tuesday 10 November 2020, 19:00 (NZDT), 17:00 (AEDT) was heard by Robert Stelzner SC (Chairman), Lawrence Sephaka and José Luis Rolandi.”

Judicial Committee Chairman Robert Stelzner SC ruled that the referee was right to dismiss Tu’ungafasi.

Mitigating factors

Because this was his first offence, Tu’ungafasi avoided a heavier sanction from the Judicial Committee.

“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,” Stelzner said.

“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.”

Wallabies loose forward Lachlan Swinton received a four-week suspension for a similar offence in the same match earlier this week.

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