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Brutal 'hit with head' on Danty results in a hefty ban for Acebes

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images)

Seasoned Perpignan skipper Mathieu Acebes has received a hefty ban following his horror red-carded Top 14 diving headbutt on France midfielder Jonathan Danty. It was New Year’s Eve when the La Rochelle player was attacked while vulnerable on the ground during the first half of a feisty French league encounter.

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The incident resulted in a red card being brandished and a subsequent social media spat between the two players before an independent disciplinary hearing panel decided in midweek to ban Acebes for nine matches.

The winger’s offence had a top-end range entry point of 16 weeks before 50 per cent mitigation was applied. The judiciary then added an extra week to the sanction, leaving Acebes sidelined until March 27.

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A Top 14 statement read: “Mathieu Acebes was found responsible for ‘brutality’ and more particularly for ‘hit with head’. It is the higher degree of the scale of gravity which was retained, that is to say a suspension of 16 weeks. After taking into account the mitigating circumstance (disciplinary record), the penalty was increased by one week.

“After taking into account the mitigating circumstances (admission of guilt before and during the hearing, and expression of remorse), the sanction was reduced by eight weeks, corresponding to a reduction of half of the chosen entry point. Consequently, Acebes is suspended for nine weeks. Taking into account the Perpignan fixtures schedule, Acebes will be requalified on March 27.”

The December 31 red card resulted in an online spat as the Perpignan captain Acebes had his subsequent social media apology rebutted by Danty. “I play with passion. Unfortunately this weekend I lost control of my emotions,” wrote Acebes. “Jonathan Danty is a player I respect a lot and I strongly regret my move and I apologised immediately after the game.

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“I will face the consequences of this unfortunate move. Judging me on my values and integrity in this single gesture is regrettable. I don’t want to give that bad image.”

In a since-deleted reply, Danty responded: “You do not regret your gesture and I do not excuse it. It was premeditated. Two minutes before you had warned me that you would take care of me, before headbutting me when I was talking on the ground with one of your teammates. Your apologies are intended for the disciplinary committee. You do not regret your gesture and I do not excuse it.”

Later in the Top 14 match, Danty suffered a rupture of the posterior cruciate ligament that will reportedly sideline him for three months, a prognosis that would rule him out of the entire 2023 Six Nations tournament with France.

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