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'Wholly disproportionate sanction': Shields learns red card fate

By Liam Heagney

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Wasps have breathed a Wednesday lunchtime sigh of relief after it emerged that Brad Shields has been cleared to play on without a ban following his red card in last Saturday’s win over Bristol. The New Zealand-born England back-rower had been sent off following the receipt of two yellow cards in his club’s opening match of the Premiership season. There were fears that a ban would rule the 30-year-old out of this coming weekend’s trip to Newcastle, but he has now been cleared and is available for selection. 

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An RFU statement read: “Brad Shields had his disciplinary case heard on papers by Matthew Weaver as the sole judicial officer. Shields was sent off by referee Karl Dickson in the 67th minute of the match versus Bristol on September 25. This was for two yellow cards, contrary to World Rugby law 9.27. Each yellow card was awarded for foul play. The player accepted the charge and Weaver deemed the offence sending off sufficient. Shields is free to play again immediately.”

In the written judgment that accompanied the statement on the Shields hearing outcome, Weaver had summarised: “Wasps provided detailed written submissions dealing with the characterisation of the incident and the mitigating and aggravating factors. Shields entered his plea at the first opportunity, notwithstanding that he maintained that he was not trying to deliberately collapse either maul but rather did not think a maul had formed and was therefore seeking to make a legal tackle in each case. 

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“He has a clean disciplinary record and is of very good character. A character reference from Wasps coach Lee Blackett was provided to the panel. He is a very experienced international player, playing over 100 Super Rugby games for the Hurricanes, including many as captain. He has played over 50 games for Wasps and is currently team captain. He has won eight international caps for England. 

“The fact that save for these two yellow cards the player has only previously received two other yellow cards, and no red cards, over his career is to his credit. His conduct on and off the field has always been exemplary. The club submitted that there were no relevant aggravating features.

“The mandatory entry point is one week and, as such, 50 per cent mitigation, which I have no doubt the player would be entitled to, does not reduce the sanction below one week. This does not, in my view, do justice to the fact that the player did not, on his account, intend to commit the acts of foul play; that the acts were not overtly dangerous and caused no injury to another player and no serious adverse impact on the match; and it does not take into account the player’s early admission of guilt. 

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“In addition, it provides the player with no recognition of his previous clean disciplinary record and the other matters of mitigation advanced on his behalf. In the circumstances, therefore, I consider that regulation 19.11.12 applies and that a one-week playing suspension would be a wholly disproportionate sanction for the level and type of offences committed. As such, I consider that the sending off was sufficient.”

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'Wholly disproportionate sanction': Shields learns red card fate

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