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Taniela Tupou cleared to play decisive Fijian Drua clash

By Ned Lester
Taniela Tupou of the Melbourne Rebels. Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

The Melbourne Rebels will have the services of Wallaby prop Taniela Tupou for their final game of the regular Super Rugby Pacific season this weekend after a review committee’s assessment of cited foul play.

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The decision concludes an anxious 24-hour period for the 28-year-old who wasn’t initially cited for the play, but was three days following Friday’s game and faced the prospect of missing the rest of the Rebels’ season.

The play in question was a cleanout around the breakdown where Tupou looked to shift Brumbies lock and fellow Wallaby Darcy Swain.

Ultimately, the review committee deemed the play legal.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and submissions from his legal representative, Harry Forrester, the Foul Play Review Committee found the foul play did not reach the Red Card threshold,” they ruled.

“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a Warning as it was close to, but did not reach the Red Card threshold.

“Fortunately, no head contact or significant injury resulted from the incident.  Had there been head contact and/or a more severe injury, the outcome may well have been a different one for the Player.

“In light of the above, the citing was dismissed with a Warning sanction imposed on the Player for the offence which will remain on the Player’s record.”

The decision means Tupou will travel to Fiji for the seventh vs eighth seed game which has immense ramifications for the quarter-finals.

Should the Rebels claim a rare win on Fijian soil, that would open the door for the Western Force, Crusaders and Moana Pasifika to take the Drua’s place as the eighth seed and make the playoffs. A win could also see the Rebels replace the Highlanders in sixth on the table.

A loss would end the aforementioned fringe playoff contenders’ seasons and potentially relegate the Rebels to eighth, although there is no chance of the Melbourne outfit missing the playoffs.

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