The citing complaint made by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Tom McCormack (Ireland), was for stamping on La Rochelle prop Petrisor Toderasc (No 1) 15 minutes into the first half. As a result of the incident, Mr Toderasc sustained injuries to his face.
Mr Attwood pleaded guilty to the citing complaint but maintained that he had not intended to make contact with Mr Toderasc's face. The independent Judicial Officer, Robert Williams (Wales), considered all of the evidence, including video footage of the incident, medical reports relating to Mr Toderasc's injuries and testimony from Mr Attwood.
The Judicial Officer heard submissions on behalf of ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, and on behalf of Mr Attwood from his legal representative, Richard Smith QC, and from Gloucester Rugby coach, Carl Hogg.
The Judicial Officer did not find that Mr Attwood intended to make contact with Mr Toderasc's face, but he determined that Mr Attwood was guilty of foul play in contravention of Law 10.4(b) in that he had stamped on Mr Toderasc. Having also concluded that the stamp was intentional and that it had caused injury, the Judicial Officer found that the offence was in the top-end range of the level of seriousness for an offence of this type and decided on an entry point of 18 weeks.
Having taken into account mitigating factors, including Mr Attwood's guilty plea, clean record, clear remorse and exemplary conduct at the hearing, the Judicial Officer reduced the period of suspension by the maximum amount of 50 per cent and suspended the player for a period of nine weeks.
The period of suspension was back-dated to begin on the day of the match in order to take into account that Mr Attwood had been suspended by his club soon after the match as a result of the incident. Mr Attwood is free to play again on Monday, 21 February, 2011.
Under the IRB Recommended Sanctions for Offences Committed within the Playing Enclosure in contravention of Law 10.4(b), 'A player must not stamp on an opponent,' carries the following recommended sanctions - Low End: 2 weeks; Mid Range: 5 weeks; Top End: 9 to 52 weeks
i) Citing Commissioner
a) Citing Commissioners will be appointed by ERC for all Heineken Cup and all televised Amlin Challenge Cup matches and shall be entitled to cite a Player for any act or acts of Foul Play that in the Citing Commissioner's opinion warranted a citing.
b) For such matches Clubs will not have the power to cite a player but may refer incidents to the Citing Commissioner within 24 hours of the conclusion of the match.
c) The Citing Commissioner will have 50 hours from the start of the game to make a citing and the determination of the Citing Commissioner will be final and binding. In exceptional circumstances this deadline can be extended.
d) The Disciplinary Officer may forward the submitted Citing to a Citing Officer to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for the citing to progress.
e) The Disciplinary Officer will then bring a charge against the cited player.
(ii) Independent Disciplinary Hearing
a) Citing hearings will be heard by an independent Judicial Officer as soon as is practicable. Until the hearing a cited player is eligible to play in ERC tournaments
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 (ERC and the player) have the right to appeal decisions of the independent Disciplinary Hearing. Appeals must be lodged within 72 hours of receiving the full written decision from the Chairman of the independent Disciplinary Committee
e) The full written decision of the independent Judicial Officer will be available on www.ercrugby.com/disciplinenews when the disciplinary process is complete