Ireland midfielder Bundee Aki have been banned for four matches following his red card in last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations win over England at Aviva Stadium. He was sent off by referee Mathieu Raynal in the 64th minute of the match following a tackle to the head of Billy Vunipola.
It was the second red card to be shown to an Ireland player in the 2021 tournament but Aki will serve a suspension one game longer than Peter O’Mahony, the flanker red-carded for his foul play connection to the head of Tomas Francis in the round one game away to Wales.
A Six Nations statement read: “Ireland No12 Bundee Aki appeared before an independent disciplinary committee via a Zoom call. The red card had been issued for an infringement of law 9.13 (dangerous play during a tackle) when Aki had tackled Billy Vunipola.
“The disciplinary committee, which comprised Roger Morris (Wales), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa), heard evidence and submissions from Aki, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, and Aki’s legal counsel Derek Hegarty, as well as from Six Nations’ legal representative.
“Aki accepted that he had committed the act of foul play alleged (a dangerous tackle) and that it had warranted a red card. The disciplinary committee accepted Aki’s explanation of the incident and that his intention had been to perform a legitimate tackle.
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“The disciplinary committee considered that in the dynamic of the tackle, Aki had made contact with his opponent just “inches too high”. The disciplinary committee accepted that Aki’s actions had been reckless rather than deliberate or intentional.
“The disciplinary committee determined the offence to warrant a mid-range entry point of six weeks. The disciplinary committee identified no aggravating features. In terms of mitigation, the disciplinary committee gave credit for Aki’s prompt acceptance that his actions had constituted foul play and been worthy of a red card, his attitude to the disciplinary process before and during the hearing, and his clear remorse and concern for the welfare of Vunipola.
“However, Aki’s previous disciplinary record meant that the disciplinary committee did not allow the maximum 50 per cent possible discount. The entry point sanction was accordingly reduced by two weeks so that the final period of suspension is four weeks.
“The disciplinary committee determined that the suspension should cover Aki’s next four matches for Connacht in competitions organised by EPCR or Pro Rugby Championship (the Guinness PRO14 or the Rainbow Cup).”
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 23, 2021
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