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Jacob Umaga learns fate after second red card in two Wasps games

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Wasps’ Jacob Umaga is set for another frustrating stint on the sidelines as he has received a four-week ban following last Saturday’s controversial red card versus Toulouse in his first game back following a three-game ban for a Boxing Day red card.

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The one-cap England out-half wasn’t meant to be available for selection to face the defending Heineken Champions Cup champions in Coventry last weekend and he had been banned for three games following his December 26 sending off versus London Irish in the Gallagher Premiership. 

However, he exercised the facility to get the final week of his suspension scratched by successfully completing the World Rugby tackle school initiative, freeing him to get chosen at full-back in last weekend’s round three European encounter. 

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His return, though, was abruptly ended on 34 minutes when he was sent off by referee Chris Busby for tackling Toulouse scrum-half Martin Page-Relo in an allegedly dangerous way. That resulted in him having to attend yet another disciplinary hearing and on this occasion, the sanction was more severe than the punishment handed down last month.   

An EPCR statement read: The independent disciplinary committee comprising Roddy Dunlop QC (Scotland, chair), Tony Wheat (Ireland) and Olly Kohn (Wales) considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence and submissions from Umaga, who accepted the red card decision, from Wasps team manager Dave Bassett, and from EPCR disciplinary officer Liam McTiernan.

“The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Umaga had made contact with Page Relo’s head in a dangerous manner. It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected six weeks as the appropriate entry point. As this was the player’s second appearance before a disciplinary committee for a similar offence this season, it was decided not to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation, and consequently, the committee reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension. Umaga is free to play on February 14.”

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The disciplinary hearing outcome contrasts the feelings at the time of the incident, BT Sport pundits Lawrence Dallaglio and Austin Healey insisting that it was a yellow card offence at worst for Umaga. “That is excessive,” bemoaned Healey.

“I don’t think it is a red card. At worst, he has received a red card here for poor tackle technique, not for the head-on-head. Well obviously for the head-on-head but that is a byproduct of hitting with the wrong shoulder. He hasn’t intentionally gone high on the head for me. It’s an accidental collision.”  

Dallaglio added: “The (Toulouse) player going into contact has jumped into Umaga. It is the wrong technique. He [Umaga] has got his head in the wrong position but in trying to free himself from Atkinson’s tackle, he [Page-Relo] has jumped into Umaga so there is mitigation and that is a yellow at best. The referee has got that wrong.”

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