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Brits' longer ban is weird

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Weird disciplinary verdict sees Brits banned for longer than van der Merwe

Schalk Brits has been suspended for four weeks, one week more than Akker van der Merwe after the pair were involved in a Super Rugby fist fight last Saturday that was instigated by the latter player. 

A SANZAAR judicial committee hearing decided on Tuesday that Bulls’ Brits was guilty of contravening Law 9.12: A player must not physically abuse anyone after he was issued with a red card during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Brits has been suspended for four weeks, up to and including May 4. This suspension covers the period of the player’s next four Super Rugby matches. The incident occurred in the 58th minute of the match between the Sharks and Bulls played at Kings Park in Durban.

Judicial committee chairperson Helen Morgan, who conducted the hearing via video conference, ruled: “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, Gert van der Merwe, the judicial committee upheld the red card under Law 9.12.

“With respect to sanction, the judicial committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level. 

“The evidence demonstrated the player contacted the opposing player’s head with more than one punch. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the player’s demonstrated remorse, extensive experience, the fact the player’s actions were in self-defence and the player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the judicial committee reduced the suspension by two weeks.  

“The judicial committee was conscious of the fact that the player was not the instigator of the incident, but due to the player’s previous two periods of suspension for striking offences, the judicial committee were unable to provide the full 50 per cent discount for the sanction. This leads to a sanction of four weeks.”

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Weird disciplinary verdict sees Brits banned for longer than van der Merwe