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All Black gets slap on the wrist for reckless clear-out

NEWS: Veteran All Black prop Owen Franks has been given a proverbial ‘slap on the wrist’ for his reckless behaviour in a Super Rugby Pacific match.

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The 36-year-old was suspended for two weeks, ruling him out of key games for the Crusaders.

However, it is likely to be reduced to just one match, after he completes a ‘head contact process – coaching intervention’ training.

He is set to miss the Super Rugby Pacific encounters with the Blues and Chiefs, but could bed cleared for the Chiefs game if he completes the process.

He was sent off late in a 10-14 home loss to leaders the Hurricanes last Friday – after a dangerous head contact clear-out on forward Justin Sangster at a ruck.

A Super Rugby foul play review committee gave Franks a four-week suspension which was reduced to a fortnight after he entered a guilty plea.

The All Blacks prop, who made the last of his 108 appearances for New Zealand in 2019, will miss the game at the Blues on Saturday and a home encounter with the Chiefs on March 29.

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The Crusaders are still looking for a win this season.

The Canterbury-based team have won seven straight Super Rugby titles, but last Friday’s home defeat was the first time they have lost four games in a row since the competition began in 1996.

They are already missing captain Scott Barrett, All Blacks back Will Jordan, as well as British and Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny with injury.

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FPRC Chairman Stephen Hardy – assisted by Ofisa Tonu’u and Stefan Terblanche – said they conducted a ‘detailed review’ of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and submissions from his legal representative, Aaron Lloyd.

The FPRC upheld the Red Card under Law 9.20b.

“Applying the World Rugby head contact process, the FPRC assessed the player’s actions as including direct head contact with the shoulder, that was reckless, made at high speed, in dynamic play with the player colliding with a high degree of force,” Hardy said.

“There was no sudden or significant change in height or direction [or any other relevant mitigating factor set out within the head contact process] to result in mitigation sufficient to downgrade the incident to a yellow card.

“The entry point for the offence was four weeks – assessed as mid-range in line with World Rugby’s mandate.

“The player was given a discount for entering an early guilty plea – and other relevant mitigating factors – reducing the suspension from four weeks to two weeks.

“The player is therefore suspended up to and including March 29.”

The Player is eligible to apply for the ‘head contact process – coaching intervention’ process.

 

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