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'He accepts he was reckless': Rokoduguni learns his red-card fate

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Ex-England international Semesa Rokoduguni has been banned for three games following his red card for a dangerous tackle on Sam Spink in last Saturday’s defeat for Bath at Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership. The suspension can be cut by a week provided he successfully completes tackle school. 

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An RFU statement read: “The case of Semesa Rokoduguni of was heard by a virtual independent disciplinary panel yesterday. The panel comprised Gareth Graham (chair) sitting with Mitch Read and Guy Lovgreen.

“Rokoduguni received a red card in the second half of the match between Wasps and Bath on Saturday for dangerous tackling contrary to World Rugby law 9.13. He accepted the charge and received a three-match ban. He is free to play again on March 8. 

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“The club indicated its intention to apply to World Rugby to access the coaching intervention programme and the panel gave permission for this request. In the event that the application is allowed and the programme completed, the player will only miss two matches and will be free to play against Bristol on March 5.”

At the hearing, a written submission provided by Rokoduguni read: “The player accepts that by virtue of the contact with the Wasps player’s head, this is a mandatory mid-range entry point case. The player respectfully agrees with the RFU’s submissions that there is nothing in his conduct that should elevate the offence above that starting point. 

“He accepts he was reckless in remaining ‘high’ into the tackle. While he would wish to point to the slight drop in height of the Wasps player as he approaches contact (the panel’s attention was drawn to the Wasps player’s legs at the point at which contact is made – which clearly showed his knees being bent – and consequently closer to the ground) he accepts that that only provides him with limited mitigation. There is nothing to aggravate the offence.”

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Having agreed that the offence was a six-week entry point offence, the panel explained its reason for applying 50 per cent mitigation regarding the suspension for Rokoduguni, who has been linked in recent days with a club move to France for next season. “The panel had no hesitation in finding that the player was entitled to the maximum reduction by way of mitigation. 

“The player acknowledged his actions merited a red card at the earliest opportunity and he has an exemplary record as a professional rugby player. It is of note that he has played over 200 times for his club, and has played for his country, without previously coming before a disciplinary panel.”

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