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'He accepted he was reckless': Naulago banned after his latest red

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

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Bristol winger Siva Naulago has been banned for four matches following his red card versus Bath last Saturday in his first game back following a two-week suspension for a similar red-carded, dangerous tackle offence against London Irish on February 11. 

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Naulago had initially made an encouraging return, scoring his team’s third try to give them an early 21-0 lead. However, Bristol went on to lose as the scales shifted on 34 minutes when Naulago was sent off on 34 minutes by referee Luke Pearce after driving his shoulder into the head of Will Butt.

This resulted in an independent disciplinary hearing with a panel comprising Jeremy Summers (chair) with Philip Davies and Mitch Read. It found: “Naulago received a red card for dangerous tackling contrary to World Rugby law 9.13 for an incident that occurred in the first half of the match against Bath on March 5.  

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“He accepted the charge and received a four-week ban. He is free to play again on April 5. Naulago will miss the following games: 13.03 vs Harlequins,18.03 vs Bath, 26.03 vs Saracens or Army vs RAF, 30.03 vs Gloucester.”

In the written judgment, it was stated: “Through written submissions filed on his behalf, the player accepted he gone high into the tackle and had been reckless in so doing. He apologised for his actions. The RFU in its submissions agreed with the position advanced on behalf of the player.

“The panel made the following findings of fact: 1. The player attempted to make a legitimate tackle but did so particularly poorly. 2. Standing front on towards B11 [Butt], he lead with his left shoulder up and into the head of B11. 3. Contact was made, with significant force, to the front of B11’s face. 4. The player had a clear line of sight. B11 made no material change in his line of attack or his height. 5. The force of impact necessitated urgent medical attention, resulting in B11 being withdrawn from the game shortly thereafter suffering from a concussive injury and at the date of the hearing he is completing the graduated return to play protocol.

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“On his own admission, the player had been guilty of foul play that had warranted a red card, and a formal finding was made in this regard. Applying the HCP, there had been contact with the head which carried a high degree of danger (direct contact; leading shoulder) and no mitigating features were present.

“The agreed position of the parties, which the panel accepted, was that the player was not entitled to the maximum 50 per cent reduction and that the appropriate sanction was a four-week suspension

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