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18 weeks' worth of suspensions in the Challenge Cup, including a 10-week ban for a dangerous tackling Agen winger

By Sam Smith

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A whopping 18 weeks’ worth of suspensions have been handed out following last weekend’s Challenge Cup round of 16, with Agen’s Jamie-Jerry Taulagi banned for ten weeks following his reckless tackle versus Benetton. Glasgow’s TJ Ioane and London Irish’s Will Goodrick-Clarke have respectively copped five- and three-week bans. 

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It’s unusual in this day and age for a double-digit suspension to be given but that is what has transpired after Agen winger Taulagi was sent off by referee Christophe Ridley in the 62nd minute of away Challenge Cup loss to Benetton for a dangerous tackle on Marco Zanon.

The committee – comprising Matthew O’Grady (England, chair), Gordon Black (Ireland) and Declan Goodwin (Wales) – upheld the red card decision, finding that Taulagi had made contact with Zanon’s head in a dangerous manner which caused the Benetton player to be removed from the field of play with a suspected concussion. 

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At the time of the hearing on Tuesday, Zanon was undergoing the graduated return to play protocols and didn’t have a date for his return to training. It was determined that the offence was at the top end of World Rugby’s sanctions and 14 weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and early expression of remorse, the committee reduced the sanction by four weeks before imposing a ten-week suspension. The exact date of the completion of the suspension will be clarified once all Agen’s remaining fixtures in the Top 14 are scheduled.

Glasgow back row replacement Ioane was suspended for five weeks after he was sent off by referee Karl Dickson in the 58th minute for dangerously tackling Montpellier replacement Yvan Reilhac. A committee comprising Jennifer Donovan (Ireland, chair), Martyn Wood (England) and Yannick Jauzion (France) upheld the red card decision, finding that Ioane had made contact with Reilhac’s head in a dangerous manner. 

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It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of sanctions and selected six weeks as an appropriate entry point. Taking into account the player’s guilty plea, the committee reduced the sanction by one week before imposing a five-week suspension which will be served once Glasgow’s fixtures in the Rainbow Cup are scheduled.

Meanwhile, London Irish prop Goodrick-Clarke was suspended for three weeks following his sending off by referee Nika Amashukeli in the 46th minute of their win for tackling Cardiff Blues prop Dillon Lewis in a dangerous manner.

Roderick Dunlop (Scotland, chair), Antony Wheat (England) and Jamie Corsi (Wales) upheld the red card decision, finding that Goodrick-Clarke had made contact with Lewis’s head in a dangerous manner and they selected six weeks as the appropriate entry point.

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea, timely expression of remorse and good disciplinary record, the committee reduced the sanction by the maximum amount of 50 per cent before imposing a three-week suspension. That ban starts with the prop missing this Friday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final at Bath.

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18 weeks' worth of suspensions in the Challenge Cup, including a 10-week ban for a dangerous tackling Agen winger

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