Martyn Williams, the Cardiff Blues player (No 7), today (Wednesday, 13 October) appeared at the ERC Offices in Dublin for a disciplinary hearing before an independent judicial officer as a result of a citing complaint arising from the Round 1 Heineken Cup match between Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, 9 October.
The citing complaint was for striking with the knee in contravention of Law 10.4(a). In particular, Mr Williams was alleged to have struck Chris Paterson (Edinburgh No 15) in the face with his knee.
Mr Williams pleaded guilty to the citing complaint but asserted that his actions had not warranted a red card. After considering the evidence and hearing submissions from Mr Williams and Roger O’Connor, ERC’s Disciplinary Officer, the independent judicial officer, Antony Davies (England), determined that Mr Williams had committed the act of foul play and imposed a suspension of two (2) weeks. Mr Williams will be free to play again on 27 October, 2010.
Under the Disciplinary Rules for the 2010/11 Heineken Cup, independent judicial officers are required to follow the sanctioning regime laid down by the International Rugby Board. Accordingly, having found that Mr Williams had committed an act of foul play, the independent judicial officer was required to determine the ‘entry point’ for Mr Williams’ suspension, based on an assessment of the seriousness of his actions.
The possible ‘entry points’ for a strike with the knee in contravention of Law 10.4(a) are lower end: three (3) weeks; mid-range: eight (8) weeks; and top end: 12 weeks or more. Having determined the appropriate ‘entry point’, the independent judicial officer was then required to consider whether that ‘entry point’ should be varied to take into account any mitigating factors (such as the player’s conduct, remorse and plea) and any aggravating factors (such as his previous record and any need for deterrence).
In this case, the independent judicial officer determined that the appropriate ‘entry point’ was three (3) weeks based on (among other things) Mr Williams’ intent and that Mr Paterson had been in a vulnerable position. The independent judicial officer then decreased the suspension by one (1) week to take into account (among other mitigating factors) Mr Williams’ good disciplinary record, which resulted in the final suspension of two (2) weeks.
The independent judicial officer ordered Mr Williams to pay the costs of the hearing.