Fijian Josaia Raisuque has been banned for five weeks by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby following his Pro D2 red card for lifting referee Laurent Millotte in celebration at the end of a recent win by Nevers over Beziers. The January 8 match in the south of France ended in farce after the referee blew the full-time whistle after play had stopped with Nevers defending their try line. 

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Overcome with joy, Raisuque reacted by lifting referee Millotte from behind high into the air, an intervention the official didn’t take kindly to as he red-carded the celebrating Nevers player.

Automatically suspended for the red card, Raisuque has now learned his faith for his charge of disrespecting the authority of a match official. A disciplinary hearing statement on the case read: “It is the upper level of the severity scale that was retained, a six-week suspension.

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“After taking into account the aggravating factors (disciplinary record), the sanction was increased by one week and taking into account the mitigating circumstances (acknowledgement of guilt, expression of remorse), the sanction was reduced by two weeks. Consequently, Raisuque is suspended for five weeks.

“The suspension took effect on the day of the game. As of January 20, and given the schedule of matches played by Nevers, Raisuque will be requalified on Monday, February 22.”

Raisuque has feared losing his job following the incident, his coach Xavier Pemeja saying: “I know that Raisuque’s gesture, in the current situation where people need lightness, makes everyone laugh, but it is unacceptable. The referee is the guarantor of this game. He is the judge of rugby. To touch the referee is to touch the institution and that is not done. We do not touch an institution.

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“I know the comparison is daring, but if you go to court tomorrow, you aren’t going to kiss or lift the judge to thank him for not fining you. Afterwards, I know there is nothing bad about Raisuque’s gesture. I know it’s just a display of a little too exuberant joy. But I repeat, it does not happen.”

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