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. 


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.

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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