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Botia learns his fate after becoming the first red-carded Champions Cup final player

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

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Fiji international Levani Botia has learned his fate after he became the first player ever red-carded in a Heineken Champions Cup final when appearing last month as a midfielder for La Rochelle in the Twickenham decider they went on to lose to French rivals Toulouse. 

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Botia was sent off by Champions Cup final referee Luke Pearce in the 28th minute of the match for tackling the Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13.

An independent disciplinary committee, comprising Philippe Cavalieros (France, chair), Leon Lloyd (England) and Frank Hadden (Scotland), held the red-card hearing by video conference on Wednesday.  

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It considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence and submissions from the player, who accepted the red card decision, from the player’s legal representative Christian Chevalier, from the La Rochelle chief executive Pierre Venayre, from the La Rochelle legal counsel Yves-Marie Feve, from the La Rochelle sporting director Robert Mohr, from a professor of biomechanics Philippe Rouch, and from EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan.

The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Botia had made contact with Medard’s head in a dangerous manner. It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected six weeks as the appropriate entry point. 

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and timely expression of remorse, as well as his prior disciplinary record, the committee reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension which will conclude once La Rochelle’s Top 14 fixture schedule is decided.

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Currently in first place in the Top 14 even though Toulouse also have the same tally of 77 points, La Rochelle will complete their regular-season programme with Saturday’s trip to Clermont after which the fixtures for the playoffs stages of the campaign will be arranged. Clermont will be the second game in Botia’s four-match ban as he also sat out last weekend’s win over Pau. 

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Botia learns his fate after becoming the first red-carded Champions Cup final player

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