O'Gara escapes with one-week ban

Date published: January 18 2013

Munster pivot Ronan O'Gara will miss Sunday's crunch Heineken Cup clash with Racing after being handed a one-week ban.

Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara will miss Sunday's crunch Heineken Cup clash with Racing Metro after being handed a one-week suspension for foul play by an ERC disciplinary panel in Dublin on Thursday.

The Irish international was found guilty of kicking Edinburgh lock Sean Cox during the 26-17 win at Murrayfield last weekend.

It was feared that O'Gara could be hit with a lengthy punishment for the offence which usually carries a minimum ban of four weeks but the disciplinary panel decided a one-week ban would suffice, meaning the Test veteran will be eligible for Ireland's Six Nations opener against Wales on 2 February.

Under the IRB's sanctioning regime for foul play, which ERC is obliged to follow, the entry points for a breach of Law 10.4(c) where a player kicks an opponent, are 4 weeks (lower end), 8 weeks (mid range) and 12 weeks up to 52 weeks (top end).

But the independent Judicial Officer, Judge Jeff Blackett (England), found that O'Gara, who pleaded guilty, had committed a petulant act which was out of character.

He determined that the act was in the lower end (4 weeks) of the IRB's sanctioning regime and taking into account the player's guilty plea and his good disciplinary record, the Judicial Officer reduced the suspension by 50 per cent.

Judge Blackett then determined that a two-week suspension would be wholly disproportionate to the level of offending as O'Gara had been body-checked by Cox prior to the incident. He also accepted that O'Gara had intended to trip rather than to kick Cox.

As there were no aggravating factors, he imposed a suspension of one week.

O'Gara will be free to play on 21 January 2013.

Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.