One-week ban for Sunwolves lock

Date published: May 31 2016

Sunwolves lock Hitoshi Ono has been suspended for one week for foul play during his side’s clash with the Brumbies in Canberra at the weekend.

The SANZAAR Duty Judicial Officer Michael Heron has accepted a guilty plea from Ono for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Striking with head, after he was cited during the Super Rugby match. 

Ono received a sanction of one week (covering one scheduled match) with his next scheduled match being Japan v Canada, 11 June 2016. Consequently he is suspended up to and including Saturday 11 June 2016.

In his finding, Heron ruled the following: 

" The player (Ono san), Shogo Tanaka san and Ms Crabtree (legal counsel) attended on the call.  The player, through Ms Crabtree and Tanaka san, submitted that there was no intention to strike the Brumbies player and the motions he engaged in with his head were part of his body movements to assist the driving maul succeed.

"The player accepted there was foul play in that his conduct was reckless and there was a risk of injury in the circumstances.

" Hitoshi Ono is currently the most capped Japanese player (96 caps).  He has a remarkable disciplinary record in that he has not been cited or received a red card before this.  He is a leader in his club and for his country.  He appears to have an exceptional disciplinary record.

" Ms Crabtree made submissions to the effect that I should see this as low end entry point (if it was not intentional and no injury resulted).  

" Given all these features, I considered that the appropriate entry point for the conduct was low end, and an entry point of four weeks was appropriate. 

"I considered that Ono san should receive at least the maximum discount of 50% given the factors above.  Further to that, I considered that a suspension of two weeks would be wholly disproportionate to the conduct involved, accepting that this was reckless behaviour and not intentional use of the head. 

"In particular the player's exceptional disciplinary record made it very unlikely he would intend to strike another player with his head.  The statement from the referee supported that. 

" Taking all that into account, I reached the conclusion that a suspension of one week was appropriate, which would include the next scheduled match on 11 June 2016, being Japan vs Canada. 

"Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including 11 June 2016."