Three-week ban for Lions hooker

Date published: May 26 2015

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Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee has been banned for three weeks for a tip tackle on an opponent in Saturday's clash with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC found Coetzee guilty of contravening law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, after he was cited following the Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Coetzee has been suspended for three matches up to and including Saturday, June 20.

The incident occurred in the 49th minute of the match played at Free State Stadium.

In his finding, Stelzner ruled the following:

"As the Judicial Officer, I considered all the evidence before me including the video footage, Citing Commissioner's report, medical information for the Cheetahs' player, Rayno Benjamin, who was involved in the incident and the submissions made for the player by his legal representative, Mr Frikkie Erasmus and Lions Defence Coach, Mr J.P. Ferreira.

"The player, through his legal representative, denied having committed an offence in terms of 10.4 (j) – Lifting Tackles. The video footage in my view clearly shows that the Cheetahs' player was lifted and dropped into the ground whilst that player’s feet were off the ground, with the result that the player’s upper body and head came into contact with the ground.

"This is dangerous play in contravention of the applicable Law.

“After taking further facts into consideration, such as the player’s unsuccessful attempt to hold on to his opponent in the tackle, I found the incident to have a lower end entry point. A four week suspension is indicated for such offending.

“The need for a deterrent in the circumstances of this incident is in my view served by imposing a further week’s suspension.

"Mitigating factors included the player’s clean disciplinary record and the fact that he apologised to his opponent both at the time of the incident and after the match, thereby demonstrating remorse for his actions. This, amongst other factors, entitles the player to a reduction in the sanction of two weeks.

"The playing schedule of the player is such that his team has a bye in three weeks’ time. There is furthermore a good prospect that the team will be eligible to play in the Super Rugby Finals Series in the week thereafter. In the circumstances, a meaningful sanction would be to suspend the player for four weeks which translates into three matches.

"A three-week suspension was accordingly imposed but given that the Lions have a bye three weeks from now, the player is not allowed to take part in any rugby activity before 20 June 2015 in order for there to be a meaningful sanction.

"The player is accordingly found to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) and is suspended up to and including Saturday 20 June 2015."

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