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Tonga sub Fine learns fate after his red-carded clash with Smith

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Replacement Tonga back Viliami Fine has been banned for three weeks following his red-carded strike on Marcus Smith in the latter stages of last Saturday’s 69-3 win by England at Twickenham. The Tongans went on to concede four tries after Fine was red-carded by referee Craig Evans. 

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While Fine, the Otago-based winger, will now miss the upcoming Tonga matches versus French Barbarians this weekend, against Romania on November 20 and one other match to be determined by the player club schedule, the unscathed Smith has been included as the starting out-half in the England team that will take on Australia this Saturday.  

A World Rugby statement following the disciplinary hearing for the soon-to-be 24-year-old Fine read: “The independent disciplinary committee was chaired by Roger Morris (Wales), joined by former international Lawrence Sephaka (South Africa) and former international referee Donal Courtney (Ireland).

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“They heard the case, considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative.

“The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that the player had struck his opponent with the upper part of his arm, that the strike was not a powerful strike and that there was no injury whatsoever to the other player.

“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-week suspension.

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“Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s clean record, his early and complete acceptance of his guilt, his timely apology to his opponent and the helpful and engaging manner in which he had approached the disciplinary process the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks.”

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