Bristol Bears forward was sent off in the 13th minute v Connacht
Bristol Bears second row Josh Caulfield has had his controversial red card for stamping on the head of Connacht and Ireland prop Finlay Bealham overturned.
Caulfield, 26, was sent off by French referee Pierre Brousset in the 13th minute of Connacht’s 27-10 win over the Bears on Friday night at the recently renamed Dexcom Stadium.
While entering a ruck, Caulfield lifted his leg up and brought it down on the face of Bealham who was lying on the floor. The decision to send him off caused uproar on social media with many onlookers questioning whether there was any intent in the incident, with Caulfield’s eyes not appearing to shift towards his opponent.
Bristol and England prop Ellis Genge wrote on X/Twitter: “There is no way in this world Josh caulfield has intentionally stamped on his head, every player watching that knows it too.”
Caulfield was cited for his dismissal but an independent disciplinary committee, chaired by Paul Thomas (Wales) with Marcello D’Orey (Portugal) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa), have cleared him to play immediately.
The former London Irish and Exeter Chiefs back five forward did not accept that he had committed an act of foul play. Although the committee disagreed with that, they did not believe the player’s actions warranted a red card and therefore it was overturned.
However, the decision to clear Caulfield also caused consternation. Journalist and author of CONCUSSED; Sport’s Uncomfortable Truth, Sam Peters, tweeted: “Stamping on an prone and defenceless opponent’s face does not warrant a red card but we have zero tolerance toward head contact and player welfare IS our number one priority.”
Caulfield red card: What is the rugby law regarding stamping? How long is a rugby ban for stamping
The law on stamping is as follows: Law 9.12 A player must not stamp on an opponent Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.12, stamping or trampling, carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 12 to 52 weeks