A kick in the face and a dangerous tackle in last weekend’s Premiership Cup action have resulted in respective four- and three-week suspensions being handed down which will see red-carded duo Saracens’ Charlie Watson and Leicester’s Tatafu Polota-Nau miss the start of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Charged with kicking, contrary to Law 9.12, the red-carded Watson appeared before an independent disciplinary panel in London on Tuesday. The kick to Northampton player Andrew Symons took place in the second half of the match last Sunday and Watson will be free to play from November 8.
Panel chair Richard Whittam said: “The panel accepted this was an act of frustration by the player in trying to release his leg from being held by Northampton Saints 12.
“Contact was clearly made with the face of the Northampton player but the action was petulant rather than with any intent to cause injury. In this instance, no injury was suffered and the Northampton player continued in the match after returning from the yellow card.
“The sanction table mandates a mid-range entry point where there is contact with the head. In this case, that entry point is eight weeks. The panel found no reason to go above that. The player accepted the charge, has no previous record and expressed remorse for his actions.
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“In the circumstances, the panel felt able to give the player the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent. The panel note that while the yellow card awarded to Northampton Saints 12 was not brought before them for consideration, it is disappointing to see actions of this nature in the professional game.”
Red-carded Polota-Nau also appeared before an independent disciplinary panel convened on Tuesday after his dangerous tackle against Bath’s William Chudley in the second half last Saturday. The Leicester player was given a three-week suspension by the panel, again chaired by Whittam, and is free to play from October 29.
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Whittam said: “The player accepted that he had committed an act of foul play in tackling a player high, making contact to the top of his chest/bottom of the neck.
“In accepting the charge, the player acknowledged that the mandatory mid-range entry point would apply. The player was entitled to mitigation for his early acceptance of the charge, his clean record over an impressive rugby career, his genuine remorse for the injury caused and his off-field contributions to the local community. The panel allowed the full 50 per cent reduction resulting in a sanction of three weeks.”
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