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EPCR statement: Josh Caulfield banned after disciplinary appeal

By Liam Heagney
Referee Pierre Brousset shows a red card to Bristol's Josh Caulfield (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Lock Josh Caulfield has been banned for four matches after EPCR appealed the disciplinary hearing decision to rescind the red card brandished to the Bristol player in last month’s Investec Champions Cup loss to Connacht.

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A committee consisting of Paul Thomas (Wales, chair), Marcello D’Orey (Portugal) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) has originally decided that while Caulfield had committed an act of foul play, it found that the offence didn’t warrant a red card and the red card decision taken by referee Pierre Brousset was overturned.

This outcome ignited a controversy where even Nigel Owens, the centurion Test referee, claimed he was glad he was retired. EPCR opted to appeal the disciplinary committee’s decision and Caulfield will now face a stint on the sidelines following two hearing this week, an appeal and then a brand new disciplinary hearing.

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A statement read: “An independent appeal Committee comprising James Dingemans (England, chair), Jean-Noel Couraud (France) and Donal Courtney (Ireland) was convened on Tuesday, January 30, to consider the appeal by EPCR of the decision of an independent disciplinary committee to overturn the red card which was issued to the Bristol Bears’ Josh Caulfield during his club’s round four match against Connacht.

“The appeal committee considered the appeal and heard submissions from the player’s legal representative, Sam Jones, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan, and concluded that the original decision should be set aside and therefore upheld the appeal.

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“They determined that the case should be reheard afresh by a new disciplinary committee at the earliest possible convenience. The new hearing took place on Wednesday, January 31, with Katherine Mackie (Scotland, chair), Mirian Tavzarashvili (Georgia) and Valeriu Toma (Romania) appointed as the independent disciplinary committee.

“The committee heard evidence from the player and also heard submissions from the player’s legal representative, Sam Jones, Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan.

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“The committee determined that Caulfield had committed an act of foul play in contravention of law 9.12 and that a red card was warranted. The committee then determined that the offending was at the mid-range entry point of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

“Due to the players’ good disciplinary record, his on-field apology to Finlay Bealham and excellent conduct at the hearing, the committee decided to reduce the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension.

“The date when Caulfield can return to play will be determined once the Committee has received full details of his future playing schedule. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.”

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