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Billy Vunipola's fate has been decided following straight red card

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Wednesday Dec 13, 2023

Billy Vunipola has been cleared of all wrongdoing after he received a straight red card during Saracen’s loss to the Vodacom Bulls at the weekend. The 31-year-old received his marching orders during the second half at Loftus Versfeld from referee Andrea Piardi for a hazardous clearout of Bulls Number 8, Cameron Hanekom. As a result, Vunipola underwent a hearing via video conference to find out whether he would face further punishment.

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The independent disciplinary committee deemed there to be “insufficient force in the contact to Hanekom’s head to warrant a red card.” This news comes as a surprise to some, as he was originally sent off for being in contravention of Law 9.12 and Law 9.11.

  • Law 9.12 Physical abuse of an opponent – punching or striking with hand, arm, elbow or shoulder
    Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.12 relating to striking with the hand, arm, elbow or shoulder carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks
  • Law 9.11 Reckless or dangerous play – leading with the elbow or forearm
    Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.11 relating to dangerous play carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks

Former Bath Rugby fly half Stuart Barnes had his say on the matter, stating: “Terrible technique…refs don’t have a clue at breakdown and this sort of nonsense goes unnoticed, often called a `clear out’ when there’s no such thing….”

Whilst others found it to be a non-issue: “Was poor but more him trying to rectify a mistake just before by getting to the breakdown as quickly as possible and anticipating a competition there. He was there too early and there was no competition so he went straight through. No big deal”

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