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Italian player cops nine week ban following on field bust up

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Friday Mar 31, 2023

Loosehead prop Luca Rizzoli has had the book thrown at him following an independent URC disciplinary hearing regarding a last-minute incident in Zebre Parma’s recent home defeat to Cardiff.

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During the final minutes, an off-the-ball scuffle saw Rhys Carre and Rizzoli come together in rough scenes that left the Zebre man with a potential 18-week ban. However, thanks to Rizzori’s “young age and inexperience, clean disciplinary record, his remorse and acceptance of his actions”, he has been awarded maximum mitigation of 50% which halves it to 9 weeks.

A statement read: “The disciplinary process related to Luca Rizzoli’s citing in the BKT United Rugby Championship round 16 game against Cardiff on March 24 has resulted in a nine-week suspension.

“The citing commissioner in charge reported the Zebre Parma player for an act of foul play related to law 9.12 – A player must not physically or verbally abuse anyone. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, biting, punching, contact with the eye or eye area, striking with any part of the arm, shoulder, head or knee(s), stamping, trampling, tripping or kicking.

“The incident occurred in the 79th minute of the game. The citing report was brought to a full disciplinary panel hearing on Thursday. The panel comprised Kathrine Mackie (chair, Scotland), John Kirk (Scotland) and David Humphreys (Ireland).

“In the player’s responses to the panel, he accepted that he had committed an act of foul play and that it met the red card test. On review of the evidence, the panel determined that the act of foul play was deliberate and intentional. A mid-range entry level for sanction was agreed upon leading to a suspension of 18 weeks.

“Taking into account the player’s young age and inexperience, clean disciplinary record, his remorse and acceptance of his actions, the panel allowed for maximum mitigation of 50 per cent to reduce the suspension to nine weeks.”

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The severe punishment received by Rizzoli will cause the 20-year-old to miss out on various club and international matches. This will come as a huge blow for the youngster who was previously included as an uncapped player in Italy’s Six Nations squad in January.

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