Juan Cruz Mallia suspended for 'reckless' charge down on Grant Williams
Juan Cruz Mallia has been suspended for a charge down that resulted in the injury of Springbok scrumhalf Grant Williams.
The incident occurred in the opening moments of their Rugby Championship match at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg last weekend.
Cruz Mallia made a charge down, successfully blocking a right-footed kick by the South African halfback. However, his follow-through resulted in a dangerous collision, hitting Williams in the head with his hip. Despite a stoppage due to a South African infringement, referee Andrew Brace ruled that Mallia was committed to the collision after touching the ball, and therefore, it was not considered foul play.
Following the match, Mallia was cited and subsequently found guilty of contravening Law 9.11, which states that players must not engage in anything reckless or dangerous that could harm others. The case was assessed by the SANZAAR Judicial Committee, led by Chairman Nigel Hampton KC, alongside David Croft and Ofisa Tonu’u.
After a detailed review of all available evidence, including multiple camera angles and additional statements from the player, the Argentinian coach, and the match referee, the Judicial Committee upheld the citing under Law 9.11.
In his ruling, Chairman Nigel Hampton KC stated that the act of foul play was reckless and carried a high degree of danger, resulting in a considerable impact on the victim player. The Committee took into account all relevant factors from World Rugby’s Head Contact Process and sanctioning table. However, they also considered the evidence presented by both the referee and the coach, regarding the view of match officials on charge downs and coaching practices related to such actions.
Ultimately, the Committee decided that imposing a mid-range sanction would be disproportionate to the player’s fault, leading them to settle on a low-range entry point of two weeks’ suspension. As a result, Juan Cruz Mallia has been suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 18 August 2023.
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