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.
NOTES: i) Citing commissioners
a) Citing commissioners are appointed by ERC for all Heineken Cup and all televised Amlin Challenge Cup matches and are entitled to make a citing complaint against a player for any act of foul play that, in the citing commissioner's opinion, warranted a red card.
b) For such matches, clubs do not have the power to make a citing complaint against a player but may refer incidents to the citing commissioner.
c) The citing commissioner ordinarily has 50 hours from the start of the match to make a citing complaint and the determination of the citing commissioner is final and binding.
d) The Disciplinary Officer may forward any citing complaint to a citing officer (or 'gatekeeper') to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for the citing complaint to proceed.
e) If a citing complaint is to proceed, the Disciplinary Officer will then bring a complaint against the cited player before an independent judicial officer.
(ii) Judicial officers a) Citing hearings will be heard by an independent judicial officer (or, in some cases, an independent disciplinary committee of three) as soon as is practicable. Under ERC's Disciplinary Rules, until the hearing, a cited player is not suspended.
b) The independent judicial officer is chosen by the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Professor Lorne Crerar.
c) The ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, presents the case against the player.
d) Both parties to the hearing (the Disciplinary Officer and the player) have the right to appeal against decisions of the independent judicial officer. Appeals must be lodged by 4pm (GMT) on the third working day after receiving the full written decision of the independent judicial officer.
e) The full written decision of the independent judicial officer will be available on www.ercrugby.com/disciplinenewswhen the disciplinary process has been completed.
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.