Sharks skipper Bismarck du Plessis has apologised after he was banned for kicking an opponent in Saturday's clash with the Chiefs in Durban.
Du Plessis appeared in a SANZAR judicial hearing due to the incident which occurred in the 18th minute of the match which the Sharks won 12-11.
Upon pleading guilty to the charge, SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden, handed du Plessis a four-week suspension.
In acceptance of the punishment handed to him by SANZAR, Du Plessis said: “I want to unreservedly apologise for my behaviour both as captain and a senior player.
"My actions were unacceptable and I fully accept the punishment handed down to me by SANZAR.
“I will use these four-weeks off the field to reflect on my actions as both a leader and role-model in the game. I am painfully aware that people have lost faith in my character and the values I claim to stand for. I intend to rectify that through actions going forward and not merely words.
“By my very competitive nature, whenever I take to the field, I pride myself on playing the game hard and fair. Sadly my recent conduct did not reflect the fairness I refer to.
"I am passionate about the Sharks, my team-mates and the game but allowed my emotions to get the better of me.
“I acknowledge that I need to have better control of my emotions and I make no excuses for my actions.
“I would like to extend my sincere apologises to Michael Leitch, my opponent who was on the receiving end of my foul play. My intention was never to cause him bodily harm and I am thankful that he was not injured. I would also like to use this opportunity to apologise to my teammates, Cell C Sharks fans and everyone else that I have let down.”
In addition to the punishment handed to Bismarck by SANZAR, The Sharks have also handed the player a heavy punishment, details of which remain an internal matter.
The Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold stated: “Discipline both on and off the field is a non-negotiable for me and it is a critical factor for success. Whilst I will always back my players in difficult times, it is important that we draw the line when it comes to foul play.
“Bismarck has apologised to our management and players for his actions and I am comfortable that he has showed sufficient remorse for his behaviour.
"I trust that this is a learning experience for him and I am confident that he will emerge a stronger individual as a result.”