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Abraham Papali'i banned following third red card in nine months at Connacht

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

Connacht back-rower Abraham Papali’i has learned his punishment following his third red card in just nine months, his latest four-week ban bringing to twelve the total of weeks he has been suspended for since joining the Irish province last year from Bay of Plenty. 


Papali’i was suspended for three weeks after getting sent off last August against Munster for a high tackle on Conor Murray, a sanction followed by a five-week ban for high tackling Zebre’s Tommaso Boni in November.  

The No8 had since bounced back to convince Connacht boss Andy Friend to offer him a contract extension, but Papali’i will head into the off-season suspended on the back of his latest red-carded high shot indiscretion in Connacht’s Rainbow Cup loss last weekend at Benetton.

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Friend warned at the start of the week that Papali’i risked losing his career over his poor tackle technique, telling a media briefing ahead of this weekend’s season finale versus Ospreys: “The bottom line is that he needs to change his tackle technique.

“If he doesn’t, well he won’t keep playing rugby union. It’s as simple as that because you can’t have a player continually getting red cards. The sanctions are going to become bigger on him and it’s impossible to stay in the game if you do that.”

The subsequent PRO14 disciplinary banned Papali’i for four matches, their statement reading: “Papali’I was shown a red card by referee Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR). The disciplinary process for the offence was presided over by Rhian Williams (WRU) who found that the foul play was reckless rather than intentional and noted that no injury was suffered by the opposing player.

“The judicial officer concluded that a mid-range offence had occurred, which carries a six-week suspension. In order to determine the extent of foul play, Hawkeye footage, referee, medical and player reports were considered, as well as the player’s response.


“In applying the off-field considerations of aggravation and mitigation, the player’s recent disciplinary record was seriously considered as an aggravating factor. However, in the player’s responses, not only did he display a frank and honest recognition of his offending but also a serious commitment and determination to addressing it in practical terms so that no additional suspension was imposed.

“In considering mitigation, the judicial officer found that apart from a clean record, all mitigating features were present including the player’s early and full admission, a spontaneous apology to his opponent and his engagement with the process. As a consequence, the period of suspension was reduced by two weeks. The player has been banned for a period of four weeks.”


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Morne 10 hours ago
Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Some further observations: Most Rugby lovers I know agree that the AB’s have been the gold standard for as long as anyone can remember - very few people disagree. The odd time that any other team has some sort of ascendency - there are always those (albeit the minority) NZ supporters that need to remind us of the AB’s glorious gold standard that anyone winning them is only down to a mixture of pure luck or some or other sinister reason or bias from match officials (or indeed the Universe). For reasons mentioned above, any other team with some ascendency over the AB’s (even if it is the 1st time in 100 years) may not receive a pat on the back and a well-done - as they only did so out of pure luck. In my opinion, if the Boks were in the same realm as the AB’s SF opponents - they would have been smashed also - whether with 14 or 13 or 12 players. But remember they were just “lucky”. As a Bok supporter, I will say this team has done our proud - despite losing some games along the way. Like the AB’s, the games the boks lose are 9/10 times one score games - this is a long way from hidings like 57 - 0…And in that we must be proud. Most of these type of articles - especially those focusing on the RWC final rather conveniently leave out any mention of Pieter Steph du Toit, or even Eben Etzebeth who won all their collusions all day long. So to those very very few bad loser AB supporters out there (definitely the minority) - I’ll say what you want to hear - the AB’s are without any doubt the best Rugby brand ever. They have consistently achieved what all other teams can only dream of. And no doubt they will scale those heights again. Now what about allowing others the odd ray of sunlight that comes our way?

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