Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst has been banned for one week for punching an opponent in Friday's clash with the Blues in Palmerston North.
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC accepted a guilty plea from Broadhurst for for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following the Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Broadhurst has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 20 March 2015 which means he will miss the Hurricanes' clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
The incident occurred in the 61st minute of the match which the Hurricanes won 30-23.
In his finding, Stelzner ruled the following:
"As the Duty Judicial Officer, I heard from the player and his representative, Mr Aaron Lloyd. Having considered the video material, including those supplied by the Hurricanes, I was satisfied that the player did not deliberately strike his opponent, Luke Braid, with his knee to his opponent's head but did make contact in a careless manner. This is supported by the video evidence and the player's account of the incident.
"The player was being held as he was trying to move away from the ruck, being made to go somewhat off balance by being held, and in the process of extricating himself from the ruck to get back into the defensive line, the player brought his body weight down forcibly onto his opponent. In the process of doing this, the player struck his opponent on his cheek with his lower leg causing his opponent's head to hit the ground and subsequently suffer concussion symptoms.
"The player accepted he had contravened Law 10.4(a) and expressed remorse for doing so. He also apologised to his opponent after the match. The player is 27 years of age with a clean record, never having been cited before in more than 50 Super Rugby matches.
"SANZAR Judicial Rules and World Rugby Regulations permit a discount of more than 50 per cent of the prescribed sanction in circumstances where there are compelling off-field mitigating factors and where the sanction would otherwise be wholly disproportionate to the level and type of the offending.
"Given the above mitigating circumstances and the fact that the transgression was more careless than deliberate, albeit with unfortunate consequences for his opponent, I came to the conclusion that a sanction of a one-week suspension was appropriate in the circumstances of this incident.
"Accordingly, the player is suspended for one week up to and including 20 March 2015."