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Bans handed down to red-carded Premiership pair Hepetema and Thorley

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Terrence Hepetema of London Irish and Ollie Thorley of Gloucester appeared before an online independent disciplinary panel on Tuesday following last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership red cards and the outcome – revealed on Wednesday – was respective three and four-week bans. 

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Irish player Hepetema was shown a red card by referee Wayne Barnes in the 59th minute of the match between Leicester and London Irish on March 5 for a dangerous tackle contrary to World Rugby law 9.13.

Hepetema accepted the charge and was given a three-week suspension by the independent disciplinary panel comprising Philip Evans QC (chair) with Tom Gilbart and Mitch Read. He is free to play again on March 30 after missing his club’s games versus Worcester, Sale and Bath.  

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The independent disciplinary panel said: “The player and the club gave evidence to the panel in relation to the mechanics of the tackle. Having considered this evidence and having examined the footage carefully, the panel found that the player’s action was a reckless one rather than intentional.

“However, in opting to make this type of tackle, he ran the risk that the action might result in an act of foul play occurring. There was no suggestion that the player had deliberately intended to make contact with the opposition player’s head.

“Having considered these aspects very carefully, the panel determined that a mid-range starting point of six weeks was appropriate. The player’s acceptance of the charge, clean record and other mitigating factors allowed the panel to apply the full 50 per cent mitigation.”

Thorley, meanwhile, was shown a red card by referee Matthew Carley in the 28th minute of the match between Wasps and Gloucester on March 6 for a dangerous tackle, contrary to World Rugby law 9.13.

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The player contested the charge but it was upheld by the same independent disciplinary panel that gave him a four-week suspension. He is free to play again on April 6 after missing the Premiership game against Leicester, Harlequins and Exeter as well as the Champions Cup match versus La Rochelle. 

The independent disciplinary panel said: “Having considered all of the evidence alongside helpful and extensive submissions from both parties the panel decided that the red card issued by the referee should be upheld.  

“Because this incident involved contact with the head, the panel was required by the regulations to impose at least a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks.  The panel then applied the maximum amount of mitigation available, given the player had contested the red card.”

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J
Jon 2 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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