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Willemse gets five-week ban

DISCIPLINARY UPDATE: Montpellier lock Paul Willemse has been suspended for five weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing arising from his club’s EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 match against Ulster last weekend.

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Willemse was sent off by the referee, Ben Whitehouse (Wales), in the 41st minute of the match for tackling the Ulster fullback Will Addison in a dangerous manner in contravention of Law 9.13.

Law 9.13 A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.13 carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: Two weeks; Mid-range: Six weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.

An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Benjamin Rutherford (Ireland), Chair, Bogdan Zebega (Romania) and Leon Lloyd (England) studied video imagery of the incident and heard evidence from Willemse who accepted the red card decision.

The committee also heard submissions from the player’s legal representative, Christian Chevalier, from the Montpellier Director of Rugby, Bernard Laporte, from the Montpellier legal representative Joris Loupien, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer Liam McTiernan.

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The committee upheld the red card decision determining that Willemse had tackled Addison in a dangerous and reckless manner. It was then decided that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions, and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea, the committee decided to reduce the sanction by one week before imposing a five-week suspension.

As Willemse is currently unavailable to play due to injury, the precise dates of his period of suspension will be communicated as soon as practicable.

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

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*Meanwhile, Benetton hooker Giacomo Nicotera has been suspended for three weeks for foul play in his team’s match against the Lions.

Nicotera was sent off by the referee Christophe Ridley (England) in the 44th minute of the match for clearing out Lions lock Darrien Landsberg at a ruck in a dangerous manner in contravention of Law 9.20b.

Law 9.20b A player must not make contact with an opponent above the line of the shoulders.
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.20b carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: four weeks; Top end: Eight to 52 weeks.

The independent Judicial Officer, Matthew O’Grady (England), heard the case on a papers-only basis and he upheld the red card decision determining that Nicotera had made contact with Landsberg’s head in a dangerous and reckless manner.

He decided that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected four weeks as the appropriate entry point. Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and good disciplinary record, he reduced the sanction by one week before imposing a three-week suspension.

Nicotera is free to play on Monday, April 29, however, if he applies for and successfully completes a World Rugby Coaching Intervention, he will be free to play on Monday, April 22.

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