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Highlanders centre Tanielu Tele’a suspended for three weeks

By Finn Morton
Tanielu Tele'a of the Highlanders in action during the round five Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato, on March 23, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Highlanders centre Tanielu Tele’a has been suspended for three weeks and won’t be available to return until after April 19 after being shown a red card during the defeat to the Chiefs on Saturday.


Referee Paul Williams initially sent 25-year-old Tele’a to the sin bin under review after the midfielder caught Chiefs No. 12 Quinn Tupaea with a high shot just before half-time.

TMO Richard Kelly reviewed the decision, with referee Williams later telling Highlanders captain Billy Harmon that there was a “high degree of danger.”

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Tele’a officially had his yellow card upgraded to a red in the 44th minute with the Highlanders down 21-nil at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium.

The SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee (FPRC) has since found Tele’a guilty of Law 9.20(a).

“A player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul,” the law states.

Tele’a has been suspended from all forms of the match up to and including April 19, which will see the centre miss Super Rugby Pacific fixtures against the Hurricanes, Rebels and Reds.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the Player and submissions from his legal representative, Aaron Lloyd, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card and found the Player to have contravened Law 9.20(a),” FRPC Chairman Stephen Hardy said in a statement.


“Applying the World Rugby Head Contact Process, the FPRC assessed the Player’s actions as including direct head contact with the shoulder, that was reckless, made at high speed, in dynamic play with the Player colliding with a high degree of force.  There was no sudden or significant change in height or direction (or any other relevant mitigating factor set out within the Head Contact Process) to result in mitigation sufficient to downgrade the incident to a yellow card.”

“The entry point for the offence was 6 weeks (assessed as mid-range in line with World Rugby’s mandate).  The Player was given a discount for entering an early guilty plea (and other relevant mitigating factors), reducing the suspension from 6 weeks to 3 weeks.  The Player is therefore suspended up to and including 19 April 2024.”

Tele’a is eligible to apply for the Worl d Rugby “Head Contact Process – Coaching Intervention” process.


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1 Comment
Red and White Dynamight 107 days ago

For those questioning whether the 20-min RC rule will detract from the safety first argument, a 3-match ban for an unintentional act of ‘foul play’ should give pause to that nonsense.

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