Melani Nanai, the Worcester Warriors full-back red-carded during last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership restart defeat to Gloucester, has been given a three-match ban at an RFU disciplinary hearing. 

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Nanai, who joined Worcester from the Super Rugby Blues in 2019, was rec-carded on 19 minutes at Sixways following a collision with Gloucester’s Jonny May and he was called to attend a virtual disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night. 

The statement accompanying the verdict read: “He was shown a red card by referee Christophe Ridley in the 19th minute of the match between Worcester Warriors and Gloucester on Saturday. This was for a dangerous charge on Gloucester’s Jonny May, contrary to World Rugby Law 9.16.

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Former Worcester regular and recent cross-channel charity swimmer Alex Grove guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

“Nanai accepted the charge and was given a three-match suspension by the independent panel comprising Ian Unsworth (chair), with Mitch Read and Tony Wheat.

“The panel applied the mandatory mid-range entry point (due to contact with the head) and allowed the player the full 50 per cent mitigation. Nanai is free to play again on September 1.”

The suspension will mark the full-back absent from Friday’s trip to Wasps, along with the follow-up fixtures on August 26 at home to Harlequins and then away to league leaders Exeter four days later. In the written judgement, it stated: “He [Nanai] accepted that this [the tackle] was reckless.

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He was truly remorseful for what had happened and had apologised to Gloucester No11 immediately after the game, as well as on social media. He had further addressed his own teammates on Monday morning and apologised to them for his actions.

“In summary, we concluded that Melani Nanai carried out a dangerous and reckless act which caused Jonny May to fall to the ground and suffer a concussion. This was not a deliberate act and nor did Nanai intend to cause Jonny May to suffer in the way that he did. 

“This incident and the consequences were borne out of poor technique: at the hearing, it was identified that the player’s balance, feet and body position were not as they ought to have been. Moreover, he ought to have anticipated that Jonny May would very likely change his running line and dip as he braced himself for the tackle.

“It’s a worrying feature of the game that over the last decade concussion rates have increased: those being tackled have to be protected. Players at any level (let alone professionals) owe it to their fellow players to ensure that their technique does not increase the risk.”

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May, who failed his HIA in the aftermath of the collision, is expected to return to contact training at Gloucester art Thursday, according to the medical report submitted to the hearing by his club. 

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