Maro Itoje’s dangerous tackle deemed ‘more glancing’ after escaping ban

Jared Wright
Bath versus Saracens; Maro Itoje of Saracens leaves the pitch after receiving a yellow card from Referee Luke Pearce

Bath versus Saracens; Maro Itoje of Saracens leaves the pitch after receiving a yellow card from Referee Luke Pearce.

England and Saracens lock Maro Itoje has escaped punishment after he was cited for his tackle on Alfie Barbeary.

Itoje is free to play with immediate effect after the independent disciplinary panel dismissed the Saracens forwards’ citing.

It’s a huge boost for defending Premiership champions Saracens ahead of their final two regular-season matches against the Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks.

Maro Itoje escapes ban

Referee Luke Pearce sin-binned Itoje after his upright tackle on Bath number eight Alfie Barbeary during the first half of Saracens’ 15-12 win at the Recreation Ground.

After viewing the replays, Pearce deemed that the tackle did not reach the red card threshold as he believed that Itoje had not made direct head-on-head contact with Barbeary.

However, after the match the England international was cited for his tackle and hence appeared before the independent disciplinary panel.

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The panel chaired by Philip Evans KC , sitting with Becky Essex and Martyn Wood, deemed that “it was more likely than not that contact was not initially with the head or simultaneously with the head and the body.”

“Itoje was cited for dangerous tackling, contrary to World Rugby Law 9.13, during a game against Bath Rugby on 26 April 2024.  The incident occurred in the 29th minute of the first half.  The citing was dismissed by the panel and Itoje is free to play with immediate effect,” An RFU statement read.

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“Panel chair, Philip Evans KC, said: “The panel heard and considered evidence from Maro Itoje and the Bath player and were able to examine the footage of the incident many times and from many different angles.

“In particular, the panel watched the footage from the rear view of Itoje which, when considered alongside the rest of the footage, demonstrated it was more likely than not that contact was not initially with the head or simultaneously with the head and the body.

“Instead, contact with the head appears to come later and can properly be described as more glancing than direct in nature.

“In all of the circumstances, the panel did not conclude that a high degree of danger was created and therefore the on-field decision stands. The player is free to play with immediate effect.”

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