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Tackle school for Biggar as EPCR publish five disciplinary results

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

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EPCR have published the outcome of five disciplinary hearings that took place this week, including its investigation into the red card copped by Wales skipper Dan Biggar during his Challenge Cup appearance last Saturday night for Northampton at Gloucester. 

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HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
Ma’ama Vaipulu suspended for six weeks
The Union Bordeaux-Begles No8, Ma’ama Vaipulu, has been suspended for six weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing by video conference arising from his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 second leg match against La Rochelle at Stade Marcel-Deflandre. Vaipulu was sent off by the referee, Wayne Barnes (England), for tackling La Rochelle centre Jonathan Danty in a dangerous manner in the 26th minute of the match in contravention of law 9.13.

The independent disciplinary committee comprising Marcello d’Orey (Portugal, chair), Leon Lloyd (England) and Sarah Smith (Scotland) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Vaipulu, who accepted the red card decision, from the Bordeaux team manager, Dylan Perez, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan. 

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The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Vaipulu had tackled Danty in a dangerous manner that warranted a red card. It then determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and apology, the committee reduced the sanction by one week. However, given his poor disciplinary record, one week was added to the sanction before a six-week suspension was imposed. Vaipulu will be free to play pending confirmation of Bordeaux’s forthcoming match schedule.

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Juan Cruz Mallia suspended for four weeks
The Toulouse wing, Juan Cruz Mallia, has been suspended for four weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing arising from his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 first leg match against Ulster at Le Stadium. Mallia was sent off by the referee, Wayne Barnes (England), in the tenth minute of the match for making contact with the Ulster wing, Ben Moxham, in the air in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.17

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The independent disciplinary committee comprising James Dingemans (England, chair), Becky Essex (England) and Jamie Corsi (Wales) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Mallia who accepted the red card decision, from the player’s legal representative, Neil Robertson, from the Toulouse president, Didier Lacroix, from the Toulouse head coach, Ugo Mola, and from the Toulouse general manager, Jean-Luc Brumont. Submissions from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan, were also heard.

The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Mallia had made contact with Moxham in the air in a dangerous manner that warranted a red card. It then determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and eight weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

Due to the player’s clear disciplinary record and his guilty plea, and as there were no aggravating factors, it was decided to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation and the committee, therefore, reduced the sanction by four weeks before imposing a four-week suspension. Mallia is free to play on Monday, May 9. 

Arron Reed suspended for three weeks
The Sale Sharks wing, Arron Reed, has been suspended for three weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing arising from his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 second leg match against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate. Reed was sent off by the referee, Frank Murphy (Ireland), in the 34th minute of the match for tackling the Bears wing, Luke Morahan, in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13.

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The Judicial Officer, Kathrine Mackie (Scotland), considered the matter on papers and she upheld the red card decision, finding that Reed had executed a dangerous and reckless tackle, making contact with Morahan’s head, that warranted a red card. It was then determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

As Reed had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card, and given his clear disciplinary record, it was decided to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation and the judicial officer, therefore, reduced the sanction by three weeks before imposing a three-week suspension. Reed is free to play on Monday, May 23. However, if he applies for and completes a World Rugby coaching intervention, he will be free to play on Monday, May 16.

Jules Plisson citing complaint dismissed
A citing complaint against the La Rochelle replacement out-half, Jules Plisson, arising from his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 second leg match against Bordeaux at Stade Marcel-Deflandre has been dismissed following an independent disciplinary hearing by video conference. 

Plisson was cited by the match citing commissioner, Gary Gordon (Scotland), for allegedly tackling the Bordeaux replacement scrum-half, Yann Lesgourgues, in a dangerous manner in the 76th minute of the match in contravention of law 9.13.

The independent disciplinary committee comprising Antony Davies (England, chair), Gordon Black (Ireland) and Leon Lloyd (England) head submissions from Plisson, who accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, from the player’s legal representative, Yves-Marie Feve, from the La Rochelle sporting director, Robert Mohr, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan.

While the committee determined that Plisson had committed an act of foul play, it found that he had attempted to pull out of the tackle and reduce the force involved. It was then decided that his action did not warrant a red card. The citing complaint was therefore dismissed and Plisson is free to play. 

EPCR CHALLENGE CUP
Dan Biggar suspended for three weeks
The Northampton Saints out-half, Dan Biggar, has been suspended for three weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing arising from his club’s EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16 match against Gloucester at Kingsholm. Biggar was sent off by the referee, Sam Grove-White (Scotland), in the 51st minute of the match for tackling the Gloucester centre, Chris Harris, in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13.

The independent disciplinary committee comprising Philippe Cavalieros (France, chair), Marcello d’Orey (Portugal) and Mitchell Read (England) heard submissions from Biggar, who accepted the red card decision, from the Northampton Saints team manager, Maurice Hartery, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan. 

The committee upheld the red card decision, finding that in executing a dangerous tackle that warranted a red card, Biggar had made contact with Harris’ head. It was then determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point. 

Given his guilty plea and clear disciplinary record, and as there were no aggravating factors, it was decided to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation and the committee, therefore, reduced the sanction by three weeks before imposing a three-week suspension. Because of Northampton’s forthcoming fixture schedule, Biggar is free to play on Monday, May 23. However, if he applies for and completes a World Rugby coaching intervention, he will be free to play on Monday, May 2.

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