Ofa Tu’ungafasi suspended for three weeks

David Skippers

New Zealand front-row Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been banned for three weeks after being sent off for a dangerous tackle in Saturday’s Test against the Australia in Brisbane.

Tu’ungafasi was red carded in the 23rd minute of the Bledisloe Cup encounter for his challenge which connected with the chin of Wallabies wing Tom Wright.

The 28-year-old appeared before a SANZAAR judicial committee in a hearing held via video conference on Tuesday.

The judicial committee found Tu’ungafasi guilty of contravening Law 9.13: “A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.

“Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.”

The foul play merited an entry point of six weeks, but a 50 per dent reduction was applied due to Tu’ungafasi’s early guilty plea and his clean disciplinary record.

The judicial committee chairman, Robert Stelzner SC, ruled the following: “Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from the Player and from his legal representative, Stephen Cottrell, by majority decision the Judicial Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.13.

“With respect to sanction the Judicial Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and has a clean judicial record, the Player was entitled to a full 50% reduction.

“The player is therefore suspended for 3 weeks, up to and including Saturday 20 February 2021. This sanction includes the Player’s next three scheduled matches as presented.”

Earlier in the week, Wallabies back-row Lachlan Swinton received a four-week suspension for a similar offence in the same match, but was not entitled to the 50 per cent reduction as he had two prior offences on his record.