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George Smith learns fate after red card against Saracens

By Online Editors
Bristol Bears backrow George Smith (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Bristol Bears flanker George Smith has avoided punishment over his red card for a dangerous tackle on Saracens’ Jackson Wray in the Gallagher Premiership at the weekend.


He appeared before an independent disciplinary panel in Bristol on Tuesday.

The former Wallaby was shown a straight red card over the incident which took place in the 47th minute of Saturday’s game at Allianz Park with matched poised at 18 points apiece. Saracens went on to defeat 14-man Bristol Bears 44-23.

The no-arms tackle saw Smith’s shoulder collide with Wray’s head. The former England Under 20’s backrow didn’t return to the field after a HIA.

Smith was deemed to have breached law 9.13 – ‘A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.’

Sanctions at the low-end are two weeks with mid-range 6 weeks, top-end 10+ weeks and the maximum punishment 52 weeks

The panel chaired by Gareth Graham dismissed the case.


In a statement they said:”George Smith of Bristol Bears appeared before an independent disciplinary panel this evening. He was shown a red card by referee Andrew Jackson in the 47th minute of the match Saracens v Bristol Bears on Saturday 8 September 2018. This was for a dangerous tackle on Saracens’ Jackson Wray contrary to law 9.13.

Smith contested the charge and it was dismissed by the panel comprising Gareth Graham (chair), with Jamie Corsi and Olly Kohn. Smith is free to play again immediately.

Panel chair Gareth Graham said: “The independent panel had the benefit of viewing this incident from a number of different angles. The footage did not clearly show whether or not there was direct contact between the player and the head of Jackson Wray.

“The panel heard evidence from Wray who said that he could not remember whether there was direct contact with his chin; he said that this was a big collision which was well-timed.

“The player explained his actions in detail and assisted the panel by demonstrating how the tackle had been carried out. He demonstrated how the position of the ball was important as to how the tackle situation developed, as it created an effect whereby it caused Wray to bounce backwards in the collision.


“The panel concluded on the balance of probabilities that the initial contact did not involve any direct contact to the head of Jackson Wray. Wray was off-balance in the tackle and the force of the tackle and the effect of the ball being between the two players caused Wray’s head to ‘whip’ backwards.

“On Wray’s own evidence, there was then a glancing contact to the underneath of his chin which was incidental to an otherwise legitimate tackle. In the panel’s view, and taking into account all of its rugby experience, that glancing contact did not pass the red card threshold.”

Smith is now free to play in Bristol Bears next game against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday.

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George Smith learns fate after red card against Saracens