Jonny Fa’amatuainu, the Scarlets player (No 19) 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 the Scarlets and Perpignan at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday, 9 October.

The citing complaint was for a dangerous tackle in contravention of Law 10.4(e).  In particular, Mr Fa’amatuainu was alleged to have committed a dangerous tackle on Perpignan player Adrien Plante (No 14).

Mr Fa’amatuainu 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 Fa’amatuainu and Roger O’Connor, ERC’s Disciplinary Officer, the independent judicial officer, Antony Davies (England), determined that Mr Fa’amatuainu had committed the act of foul play and imposed a suspension of three (3) weeks. Mr Fa’amatuainu will be free to play again on 3 November, 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 Fa’amatuainu had committed an act of foul play, the independent judicial officer was required to determine the ‘entry point’ for Mr Fa’amatuainu’s suspension, based on an assessment of the seriousness of his actions.

The possible ‘entry points’ for a dangerous tackle in contravention of Law 10.4(e) are lower end: two (2) weeks; mid-range: six (6) weeks; and top end: 10 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 six (6) weeks based on Mr Fa’amatuainu’s recklessness and the vulnerable position of Mr Plante. The independent judicial officer then decreased the suspension by three (3) weeks to take into account (among other mitigating factors) Mr Fa’amatuainu’s acknowledgement of guilt, good disciplinary record and remorse which resulted in the final suspension of three (3) weeks.

The independent judicial officer ordered Mr Fa’amatuainu to pay the costs of the hearing.