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Pau coach escapes life ban after 'physical abuse' on ref

DISCIPLINARY NEWS: Section Paloise coach Sébastien Piqueronies has been handed a 10-week ban.

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Piqueronies was cited after his team’s 16-21 loss to the Cheetahs in a Challenge Cup Round One outing at Stade Hameau in Pau at the weekend.

The organisation that runs European competitions, EPCR, revealed that the Pau coach, Piqueronies, was cited for “physically abusing” Scottish referee Sam Grove-White at the conclusion of the match.

The complaint was made by the match citing commissioner Csaba Priskin (Czech Republic).

He was charged with having contravened Law 9.28.

The hearing took place via video conference on Wednesday, December 14.

An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Jeremy Summers (England), Chair, Gordon Black (Ireland) and David Humphreys (Ireland) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Piqueronies, who accepted that he had made inappropriate physical contact with the referee, from Piqueronies’ legal representative, Benjamin Peyrelevade, from the Section Paloise Chief Executive, Pierre Lahore, from the Section Paloise legal representative, Marie Anglade, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

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After consideration, the committee decided to take the case forward as a misconduct complaint and as a result, it was not required to follow World Rugby’s table of recommended sanctions.

The committee did not accept that Piqueronies was simply trying to shake the referee’s hand and found him guilty of the less serious offence of using threatening words and actions towards the referee rather than actual physical abuse.

It was decided that the appropriate sanction entry point was 20 weeks and due to Piqueronies’ clear disciplinary record and his guilty plea, the committee granted the full 50 percent mitigation before imposing a suspension of 10 weeks.

The independent Disciplinary Committee Chair, Jeremy Summers, said: “Match official abuse has no place in rugby and this decision reinforces the message that offenders, at whatever level, will be subject to significant sanction.”

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Piqueronies is now suspended from any match day contact with the Section Paloise playing squad, including, but not limited to, access to the Technical Zone, pitchside, dressing rooms, any team areas and team communications systems.

The exact date of the expiration of his suspension will be confirmed once the Section Paloise future fixture schedule is clarified.

Both Piqueronies and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.

*Meanwhile, Cheetahs flank Teboho Mohoje copped a three-week ban after his dangerous tackle during the same game.

Mohoje was cited by the Citing Commissioner Csaba Priskin (Czech Republic), for a dangerous tackle on the Section Paloise centre, Yvan Reilhac, in the 26th minute of the match in contravention of Law 9.13.

An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Marcello d’Orey (Portugal), Chair, Matthew O’Grady (England) and Tony Wheat (Ireland) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Mohoje, who accepted that he had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card, from the player’s legal representative, Marius Botha, from the Toyota Cheetahs Team Manager, Ashwell Rafferty, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

After consideration, the committee decided to amend the charge to one of dangerous play at a ruck or maul in contravention of Law 9.20.

Law 9.20 A player must not charge into a ruck or maul
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.20 relating to dangerous play at a ruck or maul carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.

The committee found that Mohoje had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card and it determined that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

Due to the player’s clear disciplinary record and his guilty plea, it was decided to grant him the full 50 percent mitigation and the committee therefore reduced the sanction by three weeks before imposing a three-week suspension.

Mohoje is free to play on Monday, January 16 2023, however, if he applies for and successfully completes a World Rugby Coaching Intervention, he will be free to play on Monday, January 9 2023.

Both he and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.

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