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Friday Nov 19, 2021

Three week ban after breakdown shoulder to head gets spotted by TMO

Canadian flanker Michael Smith has been suspended following the red card he received against Belgium last weekend. He faced a disciplinary hearing via video link to determine his punishment after the sending off. 

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The flanker took exception to holding at the ruck and charged into his opposition player with his shoulder, making contact with the head.

The referee appeared to see it and urged the players to calm down, but a TMO referral led to the red card.

“What we have here, is a man down on the ground, number four black and you are leading into him on the head, with the shoulder, straight to the face. I have no option, it’s a red card against you.”

In the independent disciplinary hearing, Smith admitted that he had committed the act of foul play and accepted that the offence was worthy of a red card.

On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.

Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the presence and timing of an acknowledgement of wrong-doing, the player’s disciplinary record and good character, the player’s remorse for his conduct and the player’s conduct prior to and at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):

  1. 6 February, 2022 – San Diego Legion v Utah Warriors – Major League Rugby
  2. 12 February, 2022 – San Diego Legion v Dallas Jackals – Major League Rugby
  3. 20 February, 2022 – San Diego Legion v Seattle Seawolves – Major League Rugby

The player may apply to take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.

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