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France prop receives ban after Wayne Barnes' controversial decision

DISCIPLINARY UPDATE: France prop Uini Atonio will play no further part in his team’s 2023 Six Nations campaign.


Atonio received a three-game ban for a high tackle on Ireland’s Rob Herring during a Round Two match in Dublin over the weekend.

The tackle forced Herring to leave the field for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA).

However, despite the clear dangerous action, referee Wayne Barnes decided to hand the prop a yellow card instead of a red card.

The official argued that there wasn’t a ‘high degree of danger’.

In Wednesday’s disciplinary update, the independent Judicial Committee ruled that Atonio’s act of foul play was “worthy of a red card”


“France prop, Uini Atonio appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having been cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 “[A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.] in the Guinness Six Nations match between Ireland and France on Saturday 11th February 2023,” said a Six Nations statement.

“The independent Judicial Committee consisting of Judge Mike Mika – Chair [New Zealand], Leon Lloyd [England] and Stefan Terblanche [South Africa] heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representatives.

“The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee accepted the player’s admission that the tackle on Ireland No.2 was foul play. His shoulder made contact with Ireland No.2’s neck/face as described in the Citing Commissioner’s report and therefore reached the red card threshold.

“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.


“Having acknowledged there were no aggravating factors and mitigating factors including the player’s immediate admission of guilt, his exemplary disciplinary record and genuine remorse, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks [to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule]:

26 February 2023 – France v Scotland
11 March 2023 – England v France
18 March 2023 – France v Wales

“The player applied to take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention, which was granted by the committee. The programme is aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play. Further information can be found here.

“The player has the right of appeal within 3 working days of the issuing of the full written decision.”

France prop receives ban after Wayne Barnes' controversial decision

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