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Red-carded Hattingh is offered a bizarre way to end his ban early

By Liam Heagney

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USA flanker Riekert Hattingh has been offered a bizarre World Cup qualifier deal – either miss next September’s match versus Canada through suspension or attend a tackle school that would scratch the final game of the four-match ban he has received following last Saturday’s red card versus Ireland in Dublin.

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Hattingh received his marching orders from referee Mathieu Raynal after 53 minutes at the Aviva Stadium for a high tackle on hooker Ronan Kelleher and the resulting numerical imbalance aided Ireland to coast to a 71-10 win over the USA – Kelleher finished up scoring four tries, matching a feat last managed by the Irish in 2003 when Denis Hickie scored four. 

A World Rugby statement on the independent judicial hearing read: “The committee – chaired by Samantha Hillas QC (England) and joined by former internationals Leon Lloyd (England) and Bogdan Zebega (Romania) – heard the case and considered all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative, and from the matchday referee.

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“The player denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed as follows:

  • That there had been direct contact from the player’s shoulder with the chin of the ball carrier;
  • That this contact was made with force;
  • The committee did not accept the submission that there was no contact with the ball carrier’s chin; and,
  • That although the Ireland No2 was off balance and the player did bend at the knees, the player had time to adjust his body height and drop his hips and his failure to do so led to the incident.

“Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, the committee did not find that the referee’s decision was wrong and the red card was upheld. On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six-match suspension.

“Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s clean disciplinary record, the player’s apologies to both the player and the management team, and good conduct at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-match entry point by two matches, resulting in a sanction of four matches. The player will miss the following matches:

  1. July 15: Houston vs Seattle – Major League Rugby;
  2. August 13-15: US national sevens tournament – Washington Athletic Club;
  3. August 21: Seattle vs Bend;
  4. September 4: USA v Canada – World Cup qualifier.

“The player may apply to take part in the coaching intervention programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”

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Red-carded Hattingh is offered a bizarre way to end his ban early

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