The citing complaint made by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Murray Whyte (Ireland), was for acts contrary to good sportsmanship in contravention of law 10.4(m) in that Mr Rees had made contact with the eye/eye area of Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley (No 2) 30 minutes into the first half.
Mr Rees pleaded not guilty to the complaint on the basis that any contact had been accidental. The independent Judicial Officer, Pat Barriscale (Ireland), reviewed all of the evidence, including several angles of the incident from television footage and medical statements relating to the injuries sustained by Mr Hartley.
The Judicial Officer heard oral evidence from Mr Hartley (by telephone) and Mr Rees, and also heard submissions on behalf of Mr Rees from Cardiff Blues' Chief Executive, Robert Norster, and on behalf of ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor.
The Judicial Officer determined that Mr Rees was guilty of foul play in contravention of Law 10.4(m) in that he had made contact with the eye/eye area of Mr Hartley. The Judicial Officer found that the contact had been reckless and not intentional.
The Judicial Officer found that the offending was at the low end of the level of seriousness for an offence of this type, and having taken into account all aggravating and mitigating factors imposed a suspension of 12 weeks. Mr Rees is free to play again on 31 March, 2011.
Under the IRB Recommended Sanctions for Offences Committed within the Playing Enclosure, contact with the eye/eye area in contravention of Law 10.4(m) carries the following recommended sanctions - Low End: 12 weeks; Mid Range: 18 weeks; Top End: 24 to 156 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