Moala will miss the first three games of the World Cup
Tonga centre George Moala has had his five game ban upheld after an appeal was dismissed.
Moala was handed the ban for a tip tackle in a World Cup warm-up match against Canada in August. The original disciplinary hearing believed it warranted a 10-match ban but it was lowered to five because of mitigation.
Tonga’s Rugby Union decided to appeal the decision, which would see the Clermont player unavailable to play the team’s opening three World Cup matches.
After the appeal was heard World Rugby released a statement. “The appeal committee dismissed the player’s appeal against the entry point of the offending,” it read.
“Having considered the evidence before it, the appeal committee found that the judicial committee which heard the case at first instance was entitled to find that the tackle warranted a mid-range entry point and accordingly upheld the decision of the disciplinary committee.”
Moala has been selected by Tonga for the World Cup and so the list of matches the ban applies to are:
- Tonga vs Canada, August 15 (World Cup warm-up)
- Clermont vs Perpignan, August 26 (Top 14)
- Tonga vs Ireland, September 16 (World Cup)
- Tonga vs Scotland, September 24 (World Cup)
- Tonga vs South Africa, October 1 (World Cup)
It means the first World Cup match he will be available to play is Tonga’s final pool match against Romania.
George Moala: What have players said?
Before the appeal there had been uproar on social media around the difference in ban length handed to different players. England captain Owen Farrell’s red card was initially overturned but then he was handed a four-match ban for a tackle.
England’s Billy Vunipola was given a three-game ban, which can be reduced to two if he attends tackle school. Many players took to social media and the press to air their grievances.
Tonga’s Malakai Fekitoa wrote: “Free George Moala. Let the man play.”
And New Zealand’s Richie Mo’unga told Radio New Zealand before Farrell’s ban was handed out: “The Farrell incident, someone who has history and who has been banned earlier this year, for them to turn around and say he’s got a zero-week ban, it’s a slap in the face.
“There are boys in this [All Blacks] camp who feel for him [Moala] deeply. A lot of Pacific Island boys in the camp who are pretty gutted about that scenario and the way it’s unfolded.
“It seems there’s a double standard going on, especially with the tier two teams and the Pacific Island nations around how they get judged or how they get treated.”
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.