Leonardo Ghiraldini of Italy has been suspended for 15 weeks after acknowledging that he had been guilty of an act of foul play contrary to Law 10(4)(m).

Following a review of broadcast footage, Ghiraldini was cited by Independent Citing Commissioner Peter Larter (ENG) under Law 10.4(m) acts contrary to good sportsmanship; in this case, for contact with the eye or the eye area of an Irish player in the Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool C match against Ireland in Dunedin on 2 October. Ghiraldini admitted a breach of Law 10.4(m), but denied his actions were deliberate.

Ghiraldini was suspended by Independent Judicial Officer Bruce Squire QC (NZL) in accordance with the Rugby World Cup 2011 Disciplinary process.

Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence from the Player and submissions from his legal representative, the Judicial Officer found the contact with the eyes of the Irish player to be a deliberate act on the part of Ghiraldini and categorised it as top end offending which has an entry point of 24 weeks suspension.

The Judicial Officer also took the view there should be an increase on the suspension period prescribed by the entry point for deterrent purposes, noting that increased penalties had not been reflected in any significant reduction in offending of this kind. However, taking into account particular aspects of the offending in this case and a range of mitigating factors, principally Ghiraldini’s previously unblemished record, the Judicial Officer reduced the period of suspension otherwise arrived at to 15 weeks.

Ghiraldini was accordingly suspended from all Rugby up to and including 17 January 2012. He is free to resume playing on 18 January 2012.

The player has 48 hours in which to appeal from the time he was informed of the decision.

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