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Frank Lomani lands six-week ban for red card incident

By Ned Lester
Frank Lomani warming up for the Fijian Drua. Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Fijian Drua halfback Frank Lomani will miss all but one of his team’s remaining Super Rugby Pacific contests during the 2024 round-robin stages after being handed a hefty ban for foul play.

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The 27-year-old was guilty of a shocking elbow strike to the back of Melbourne Rebels lock Josh Canham’s head in the round seven matchup at AAMI Park.

He was subsequently red-carded and faced an anxious wait ahead of hearing his punishment. During the judicial process, the halfback entered an early guilty plea and was rewarded for it with a discounted suspension.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and submissions, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card and found the Player to have contravened Law 9.12,” FPRC Chairman Stephen Hardy ruled.

“The entry point for the offence was 10 weeks (assessed as Top-End range for intentional and deliberate physical abuse of striking with an elbow to the back of the victim player’s head and causing injury, where the victim player was in an incredibly vulnerable position with limited ability, if any, to defend himself).

“The Player was given a discount for entering an early guilty plea (and other relevant mitigating factors), reducing the suspension from 10 weeks to 6 weeks.  The Player is therefore suspended up to and including 26 May 2024.

“In providing the Player the Sanction, the Foul Play Review Committee emphasised that this sort of incident is not tolerated in any form of the game.”

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Lomani’s return will come in a home game in the final round of the regular season, awkwardly against the Rebels.

He wasn’t the only Drua player to see red in the contest though, with prop Jone Koroiduadua being sent from the field after a head butt following a scrum late in the game.

A two-week suspension was deemed appropriate for the prop’s foul play, with stated mitigating factors including his clean record, “limited contact with the head”, and “off-field mitigating factors”. Said factors reduced the suspension from its six-week entry point.

“The FPRC deemed the act of foul play merited a low-end entry point of 6 weeks primarily given that the Player and victim player were “head to head” prior to the incident, and that the Player’s head appears to have made limited contact with the head of the victim player and rather made contact with the chest area of the victim player.   There was also no injury to the victim player,” Hardy said.

“The Foul Play Review Committee emphasised that had there been more forceful head contact made, the entry point may well have been higher than low-end. The entry point for the offence is 6 weeks.

“The Foul Play Review Committee applied a discount of 3 weeks for entering an early guilty plea (and other relevant mitigating factors including the Player’s otherwise unblemished disciplinary record), reducing the suspension from 6 weeks to 3 weeks.

“Further, where a matter is determined to be low-end offending, there are off-field mitigating factors, and the sanction would be wholly disproportionate to the level and type of offending involved, a sanction below 50% of the sanction may apply.

“To that end, the Foul Play Review Committee considered a sanction of 3 weeks would have been wholly disproportionate to the level and type of offending involved, and applied a further reduction of 1 week to the sanction, resulting in a total sanction of 2 weeks.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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