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Pieterse ban for 'high danger' flying hit not as bad as first feared

By Liam Heagney

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Castres forward Ryno Pieterse has been banned for just twelve weeks after getting red-carded for his huge flying hit on Bordeaux scrum-half Maxime Lucu as he cleared the ball during a Top 14 match in France on September 18. The South African’s offence was given a 24-week entry point at a disciplinary hearing but 50 per cent mitigation was applied to the suspension.

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The hit ignited a scuffle before referee Romain Poite, shouting “carton rouge direct”, managed to break it up and restore calm by sending off Pieterse, the former Bulls forward who signed for Castres last year.

A statement from the Ligue Nationale de Rugby following the disciplinary hearing read: “Pieterse was found responsible for dangerous play and more particularly for tackling, charging, pulling, pushing, or grabbing an opponent whose feet do not touch the ground.

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“Given the elements of the case and the high level of dangerousness of the action, the disciplinary and rules commission decided to set the entry point for the sanction at 24 weeks – a higher level than the disciplinary scale of the LNR.

“After taking into account the mitigating circumstances (clean disciplinary record, youth and inexperience, acknowledgement of guilt, expression of remorse, conduct before and during the hearing), the sanction was reduced by twelve weeks. Consequently, Pieterse is suspended for twelve weeks.

“The suspension takes effect on the day of the match. As of September 29, and taking into account the fact that Pieterse is likely to be registered by Castres for the Champions Cup, the date of re-qualification of for Pieterse will be determined later.”

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The decision to cut the initially suggested ban in half will likely prompt a huge debate, particularly as it goes against the general level of commentary ignited by a tackle that quickly went viral on social media. 

Recently retired Test referee Nigel Owens had commented: “I never get involved in citings or length of ban conversations. But this was as obvious a red card you will see and well done Romain, no TMO lengthy conversations. But it has to now be followed by a very, very lengthy ban.”

Andy Goode, meanwhile, had described the hit from the 6ft 6ins, 114kg forward as “mindless”, although some suggested it wasn’t high and only marginally late. “Heavy ban coming for this mindless act,” wrote the former England fly-half on Twitter. 

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TOP 14    

Pieterse ban for 'high danger' flying hit not as bad as first feared

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