Three-week ban for Bulls captain
The Bulls were dealt a big blow with the new that captain Flip van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks.
They play the Western Force in Perth on Saturday, before returning home after a month-long Australasian tour.
A SANZAR judicial hearing found Van der Merwe guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking.
He was cited following his team's 12-19 loss in a Super Rugby match to the Waratahs last week.
The incident occurred in the 75th minute of the match between the Waratahs and Bulls in Sydney.
Van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks up to and including Sunday, May 11.
The SANZAR judicial hearing, held via video conference on Wednesday, was heard by Australian Adam Casselden, who was assisted by former New Zealand player Eroni Clarke.
In his finding Casselden ruled the following: "Having heard the submissions from the player's counsel, Stephan Weyers, receiving evidence from the players, Flip van der Merwe and Paddy Ryan and also reviewing the video footage a number of times along with other evidence, I found on the balance of probabilities that Van der Merwe did strike Ryan's nose with his hand, arm or fist, but that no injury was sustained by Ryan by reason of Van der Merwe's action.
"Having considered all the matters that are in Regulation 17.9.2, I was satisfied that a mid level entry point was appropriate, particularly considering the intent of Van der Merwe to strike Ryan and the vulnerable position Ryan was placed in at the base of a collapsed scrum in circumstances where he could not protect himself from Van der Merwe's action.
"A mid level entry point dictates a suspension of five weeks, but due to the player's good character, lengthy professional playing career and his relatively clean disciplinary record, I was satisfied that the five week entry point should be reduced to three weeks.
"Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of rugby from Saturday, April 26, up to and including Sunday, May 11."