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Eroni Sau cops a hefty ban after his red card for Fiji last Sunday

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Red-carded Fiji winger Eroni Sau has been banned for five weeks following his first-half sending-off in last Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series defeat to Wales in Cardiff. It was following a lengthy interaction with TMO Stuart Terheege that referee Nic Berry eventually red-carded Sau for his 24th-minute foul tackle on Wales’ Johnny Williams, his swinging arm connecting to the centre’s head.

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This numerical imbalance ultimately played a part in Fiji not being able to hold on to claim a surprise win, the Pacific Island team eventually losing 38-23, and the naughty winger learned his fate on Wednesday having attended an independent judicial committee hearing via video link. 

Chaired by Pamela Woodman (Scotland) and joined by former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former international Martyn Wood (England), the committee considered all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative before a verdict was reached. 

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A statement from World Rugby read: “The player accepted that he had made direct contact to the head of his opponent but denied that he had committed an act of foul play (and so the issue of a red card was not warranted). 

“Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee decided, on the balance of probabilities, that there had been direct contact by the player to the head of the player’s opponent, with force and with a high degree of danger and that there was no applicable mitigation which would change the outcome from a red card. Therefore, the committee did not find that the referee’s decision was wrong and so the red card was upheld.

“On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head and determined that the foul play warranted a mid-range entry point. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension. Having acknowledged mitigating factors (with regard to sanction) including his apology to his opponent and his conduct during the hearing, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by one week, resulting in a sanction of five weeks.”

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Sau, the former Edinburgh player, will now miss this weekend’s Fiji match versus Georgia and four Pro D2 games for his current club, Provence. However, the successful completion of a tackle school intervention would free him from the final week of his ban and allow him to play against Agen on December 17. 

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