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Ex-All Black Fifita must attend tackle school or delay Tonga debut

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita must successfully come through tackle school or his intended debut for Tonga will be pushed back a week following his ban for the red card received last weekend playing for Scarlets in the URC. The 30-year-old, who won the last of his eleven New Zealand caps in July 2019, has successfully applied to World Rugby to change his allegiance to the country of his birth.

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That switch left him primed to be involved in the match Tonga have against Spain in Malaga on November 5. However, he now won’t be available to make his debut unless he undertakes tackle school and scratches off the final week of his four-week ban.

Failure to successfully come through the coaching intervention programme would leave Fifita instead having to wait until the following weekend’s game versus Chile in Bucharest to be able to debut for Tonga.

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A URC statement on his ban read: “The disciplinary process related to Vaea Fifita and his red card in the URC round four game for Scarlets against Cardiff on Saturday, October 8, has resulted in a four-week ban.

“After an act of foul play against Cardiff No20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, referee Adam Jones showed Fifita a red card in the 77th minute under law 9.13 – a player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.

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“In the player’s response to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process, Andrea Caranci of Italy, he accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card. Caranci found that the incident met the red card threshold, with mid-range entry warranting six weeks. The player received two weeks’ mitigation due to his good record which results in a four-game suspension.

“Should the player complete the World Rugby coaching intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.”

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Fixtures Vaea Fifita is unavailable for:
Scarlets vs Zebre Parma, October 15 – URC
Connacht vs Scarlets, October 21 – URC
Scarlets vs Leinster, October 28 – URC
Spain vs Tonga, November 5 – International*

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Flankly 8 hours ago
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