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Kick in the face leads to heaviest suspension yet at the World Cup

By Liam Heagney
Paula Ngauamo. (Photo / Getty Images)

The heaviest suspension to be handed down at the World Cup has been dished out to Tonga hooker Paula Ngauamo after he was cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.12 (kicking) in their Pool C win over against USA in Osaka.


Tuesday’s independent Judicial Committee in Tokyo was chaired by Alan Hudson (Canada) joined by former international player Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) and former referee Valeriu Toma (Romania).

The player admitted that he had kicked his opponent in the face and accepted this was at least mid-range offending as he had made contact with his opponent’s head.

The committee agreed and applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point, which was introduced in 2017 to protect player welfare, deter high contact and prevent head injuries. This resulted in a starting point of an eight-week suspension.

Taking into account the mitigating factors that are considered in relation to sanction, including the player’s early admission and disciplinary record, the committee reduced the eight-week entry point by one week, resulting in a sanction of seven weeks.

Ngauamo is returning to Tonga on Tuesday prior to resuming club duty with Agen in the Top 14. The player will be suspended for his next seven weeks of club rugby on his return to France.

WATCH: The RugbyPass documentary on Tonga’s preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019   

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