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World Rugby statement: Japan's Michael Leitch banned after red card

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Red-carded Japan back row Michael Leitch will be available for the start of the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France after only getting a three-match ban that can be reduced to two with the successful completion of tackle school.


Leitch, a star of the 2019 finals, was sent off in last weekend’s 24-22 warm-up loss to Samoa in Sapporo, but the sanction he has now received at a disciplinary hearing won’t impact his availability for the opening round September 10 encounter with Chile in Toulouse.

Instead, he will sit out this Saturday’s warm-up against Tonga in Osaka as well as the August 5 and August 26 friendlies versus Fiji and Italy. However, he will become free to play against the Italians as he intends to take part in the World Rugby coaching intervention programme.

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A statement read: “Japan No8 Michael Leitch appeared before an independent judicial committee on Wednesday having received a red card for an offence contrary to law 9.11 against Samoa.

“The independent disciplinary committee was chaired by Nigel Hampton (New Zealand) and joined by former player Ofisa Tonu’u (New Zealand) and former international referee Donal Courtney (Ireland).


“The player accepted that foul play occurred and that the offending warranted a red card. The committee noted that the offence carries a mandatory mid-range sanction (six matches), and having considered the mitigating factors reduced the sanction by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent. The final sanction of three matches is to be applied as follows:

  • Japan vs Tonga, July 29;
  • Japan vs Fiji, August 5;
  • Italy vs Japan, August 26*.

“The player intends to apply to take part in the World Rugby coaching intervention programme to substitute the final match of the sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”


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