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EPCR statement: Tom O'Toole red card and Michael Lowry warning

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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An independent EPCR disciplinary hearing has banned prop Tom O’Toole for three matches and issued a warning to full-back Michael Lowry following this month’s Heineken Champions Cup elimination for Ulster at the hands of Toulouse. The Irish province carried a six-point first-leg lead into their Belfast rematch with the defending champions. 

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However, they failed to protect that advantage, losing out on a 50-49 aggregate after a 75th-minute converted try from Antoine Dupont proved decisive in a match where O’Toole was red-carded ten minutes earlier and Lowry was involved in an incident with Thomas Ramos.

An EPCR statement read: “The Ulster replacement prop, Tom O’Toole, has been suspended for three weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing arising from his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 second leg match against Toulouse at the Kingspan Stadium.

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“O’Toole was sent off by the referee, Matthew Carley (England), in the 65th minute of the match for tackling the Toulouse back row, Anthony Jelonch, in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13.

“The independent disciplinary committee comprising Gareth Graham (England, chair), Marcello d’Orey (Portugal) and Martyn Wood (England) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from O’Toole, who accepted the red card decision, from the Ulster director of rugby operations, Bryn Cunningham, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan. 

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“The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that in executing a tackle in a dangerous manner, O’Toole had made contact with Jelonch’s head. It then determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

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“Due to the player’s guilty plea and clear disciplinary record, and as there were no aggravating factors, it was decided to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation and the committee reduced the sanction by three weeks before imposing a three-week suspension. O’Toole is free to play on Monday, May 9. However, if he applies for and completes a World Rugby coaching intervention, he will be free to play next Monday, May 2.

“Meanwhile, Ulster’s Michael Lowry has been issued with a citing commissioner warning for making contact with the Toulouse full-back, Thomas Ramos, in the air in a dangerous manner in the 60th minute of the match in contravention of law 9.17. The match citing commissioner was Danae Zamboulis (Greece).”

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