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Championship player banned for 15 matches for a 'deliberate bite'

By Liam Heagney
Bedford's Jordan Onojaife contests a lineout (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

A massive 15-match ban for biting an opponent has been handed down to a 27-year-old Championship-level lock. Seasoned Bedford player Jordan Onojaife, who was a member of the England U20s squad that won the 2014 Junior World Championship, was cited for an incident during a melee after the final play in last month’s second-tier game versus Ealing and the disciplinary hearing verdict will see him unable to play again until April 17.

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It was Friday when the suspension was finally made public. A statement on the Championship website about the December 13 hearing read: “The case of Bedford Blues’ Jordan Onojaife was heard by an independent disciplinary panel chaired by Matthew O’Grady with Becky Essex and Guy Lovgreen.

“Onojaife was charged with a single offence of physical abuse contrary to World Rugby law 9.12 for biting the finger of an Ealing Trailfinders player in the match on December 10. The player denied the charge and denied committing any act of foul play.

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“However, the panel upheld the charge and Onojaife was banned for 15 weeks. Subject to any of these fixtures not taking place, the player will be free to resume playing from Monday, April 17.”

The statement was accompanied by a lengthy 21-page written judgment that contained a series of graphic pictures showing the finger damage suffered by Carlo Tizzano, the ex-Waratahs back-rower who exited the Super Rugby Pacific scene last summer to join the London-based Trailfinders.

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In his evidence, Tizzano claimed that after he ran into the melee to break players up he wound up getting bitten. “Tizzano said it was upsetting. He had never seen anything like it before. He said the bite was hard… and he firmly denied the player’s case that Tizzano tried to ‘fish hook’ the player’s mouth. He was on antibiotics to prevent infection and had not received any expression of remorse, regret or apology from the player or from anyone on the player’s behalf.”

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Onojaife, who played one Premiership match for Northampton before embarking on a Championship career that took him to Moseley, Rotherham, Bedford, Ealing and Nottingham before he return to the Blues for his second stint, suggested that the RFU’s case was “nonsensical” and that anything played frame-by-frame showed a different story to watching it at live speed.

He said: “I cannot let, kind of, slander like this go because it has huge consequences. I’m obviously emotionally charged because I have not intentionally or unintentionally bitten anyone. You know, the boy’s hand… finger’s been in my mouth. Only he knows why he did that and only I know if I bit him and I’m telling you categorically I have not bitten that boy. So, sitting here, it’s kind of a hard one… these allegations are huge.”

In its findings, the judiciary concluded: “This was a deliberate bite of an opponent. The bite was hard. Given the force used, we conclude that the player intended to inflict momentary pain.” An 18-week entry point was chosen, a sanction that was reduced by three weeks.

  • Click here to read the full judgment from the Jordan Onojaife disciplinary hearing

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