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Gigena and Graham have their Premiership red cards rescinded

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Both red cards issued in last Friday’s Gallagher Premiership win by London Irish at Newcastle have been rescinded, leaving Facundo Gigena and Gary Graham free to play immediately for their respective teams after each player contested the charge levelled at them. The cases were heard on Monday night by a virtual independent disciplinary panel, chaired by Matthew Weaver with Leon Lloyd and Miles Benjamin. 

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An RFU statement on Tuesday outlined what unfolded and the decision that were reached, freeing Gigena for next Sunday’s London Irish game versus Wasps and doing likewise for Graham for Newcastle’s trip to Sale next Friday.

“Facundo Gigena received a red card and was charged with punching or striking, contrary to World Rugby law 9.12 during the game against Newcastle Falcons on April 22. He contested the charge. The red card was rescinded by the panel and Gigena is free to play immediately,” read the statement.

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Speaking about the outcome for Irish prop Gigena, panel chair Weaver added: “The panel rescinded the red card issued to the player in circumstances where the referee’s report had made clear that the red card was issued for a punch or strike with the hand.

“The video footage and the RFU’s submissions at the hearing made it clear that the possible red card offence so far as the RFU was concerned was a strike with the head, not a strike with the hand. 

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“Given that the hearing was for the purposes of deciding whether the referee was wrong to issue a red card, the panel considered that only the offence for which the player was sent off could be considered and that this was to be the offence set out in the referee’s report.  

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“As such, an application to change the offence relied upon was rejected and the RFU confirmed that the alleged strike with the hand did not meet the red card threshold.  The red card is therefore removed from the player’s record and he is free to play immediately.”

Gigena was rushed straight back into action on Tuesday evening when Allan Dell failed a fitness test and dropped out of the London Irish squad for that night’s Premiership Cup game versus Leicester. Gigena comes into the squad to start at loosehead prop, with Marcel van der Merwe moving to the three shirt. Ciaran Parker moved to the replacements to wear No17.

Regarding Graham, the Premiership statement read: “Gary Graham received a red card and was charged with striking with head, contrary to World Rugby law 9.12 during a game against London Irish on April 22. Graham contested the charge. The red card was rescinded by the panel and Graham is free to play immediately.”

Panel chair Weaver explained: “The panel rescinded the red card. Whilst the video footage showed contact between the player and Facundo Gigena’s foreheads, the motion of the player’s head was not that of a typical head butt but more of a push towards the opposition player.  

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“The contact was minimal between the players and the lack of force used was not sufficient for the movement to constitute a strike. There was no obvious danger to either player and this, together with the lack of force and nature of the player’s actions, led the panel to conclude that whilst the player’s actions amounted to an act of foul play, it did not meet the red card threshold.  

“The panel declined to substitute a yellow card onto the player’s record for the offence. As such, the red card issued is removed from the player’s record and he is free to play immediately.”

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