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Pau coach cops massive ban after 'hand shake' defence fails

By Ian Cameron
Sébastien Piqueronies for physically abusing referee Sam Grove-White.

Section Paloise head coach Sébastien Piqueronies has been suspended following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in the wake of his club’s EPCR Challenge Cup match against the Toyota Cheetahs at Stade Hameau over the weekend.

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Piqueronies accepted that he had made inappropriate physical contact with the Scottish referee Sam Grove-White after the game although he has claimed he was trying to shake the offical’s hand.

Piqueronies grabbed referee Grove-White at the final whistle Challenge Cup match after his side suffered a shock 21-16 loss to the Cheetahs.

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The incident occurred after the referee made a controversial call. Piqueronies, who was visibly upset, confronted the referee and began yelling at him and grabbing his hand in an aggressive manner. Players from both teams rushed to intervene, but Piqueronies continued to shout and gesture at the referee before being escorted off the field.

After consideration, the committee decided to take the case forward as a misconduct complaint and as a result, it was not required to follow World Rugby’s table of recommended sanctions.

The committee did not accept that Piqueronies was simply trying to shake the referee’s hand and found him guilty of the less serious offence of using threatening words and actions towards the referee rather than actual physical abuse.

It was decided that the appropriate sanction entry point was 20 weeks and due to Piqueronies’ clear disciplinary record and his guilty plea, the committee granted the full 50 per cent mitigation before imposing a suspension of 10 weeks.

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The independent Disciplinary Committee Chair, Jeremy Summers, said: “Match official abuse has no place in rugby and this decision reinforces the message that offenders, at whatever level, will be subject to significant sanction.”

Piqueronies is now suspended from any match day contact with the Section Paloise playing squad, including, but not limited to, access to the Technical Zone, pitchside, dressing rooms, any team areas and team communications systems.

The exact date of the expiration of his suspension will be confirmed once the Section Paloise future fixture schedule is clarified.

Cheetahs back row, Oupa Mohoje, has been suspended for three weeks following an incident in the same match. Mohoje was cited for a dangerous tackle on the Pau centre, Yvan Reilhac, in the 26th minute.

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