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Ruhan Nel learns fate after 'gobsmacking' citing that infuriated Stormers

By Ian Cameron
Ruhan Nel of DHL Stormers during the United Rugby Championship match between Connacht and DHL Stormers at The Sportsground in Galway. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Stormers’ Ruhan Nel has avoided a ban after facing a disciplinary panel for the yellow card he received playing against Connacht in the United Rugby Championship.

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The Stormers went down to 14 for the second time in the game after Nel was sin-binned for a high shot on Conor Fitzgerald and the home side went on to win after Alex Wootton’s offload to Peter Sullivan secured their third try.

The decision to cite Nel was described as gobsmacking by Stormers head coach John Dobson this week, who said the process was completely unnecessary, given that seemingly everyone on the day felt the hit was a ‘yellow card at best’ and not a red card.

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Nel was cited under Law 9.13 – A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders

The Disciplinary Panel stated: “The Panel reviewed the alleged act of foul play against his opponent, Conor Fitzgerald (No 10) for Connacht, and found that there was head contact as a result of foul play. Applying the World Rugby Head Contact Process, the Panel determined that there was a high degree of danger in the Player’s actions due to the speed and force of the collision. The Panel also considered, the mitigating factors, which were: the Player demonstrated a good level of control, both players dropped in height and that Nel turned his head away from the tackle in an attempt to avoid contact to the head on head contact.”

“The on-field decision of the Match Officials team that, following mitigation, the incident did not meet the threshold of a red card was deemed correct by the Panel.

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“Therefore, the Citing Complaint was not upheld and the Player is free to continue playing.”

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