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No Zach Mercer ban as his red card at Exeter has been rescinded

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

England prospect Zach Mercer has had the controversial red card he picked up at Exeter last Sunday rescinded at a midweek disciplinary hearing. The Gloucester-bound No8 was playing for Montpellier at Sandy Park in the Heineken Champions Cup round-of-16 when he was sent off for a collision with the head of Chiefs’ Christ Tshiunza.

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Referee Andrew Brace believed the early second-half incident merited a red card and Mercer, who will be eligible for England selection for the upcoming Rugby World Cup after signing a 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership deal, could only look on haplessly from the stands as Montpellier went on to be eliminated on the try count rule after the match ended 33 points each after extra-time.

That agonising outcome denied the French club from securing a quarter-final versus the Stormers, but at least Mercer has now had his reputation restored by having the red card overturned. A statement read: “Zach Mercer has had the red card shown to him during his club’s round-of-16 match against Exeter dismissed following an independent disciplinary hearing.

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“Mercer was sent off by referee Andrew Brace in the 50th minute of the match for tackling Exeter back row Christ Tshiunza in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13.

“An independent disciplinary committee comprising David Martin (Ireland, chair), Gordon Black (Ireland) and Bogdan Zebega (Romania) viewed footage of the incident and heard evidence by video conference from Mercer, who accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but did not accept that it warranted a red card.

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“The committee also heard submissions from Montpellier director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre, from the French club’s defence and laws coach Alex Ruiz, from team manager Tom Whitford, and from EPCR disciplinary officer Liam McTiernan. The club’s legal representative, Joris Loupien, was also present during the hearing.

“The committee decided that although Mercer had committed an act of foul play, the tackle did not warrant a red card. The sending-off was therefore dismissed and Mercer is free to play. EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.”

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