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

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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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. 

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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.

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

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