O'Gara was alleged to have kicked the Edinburgh Rugby player, Sean Cox (No 5), in contravention of Law 10.4(c) of the IRB's laws of the game during the second half of the match at Murrayfield. The complaint was made by Citing Commissioner, Alberto Recaldini (Italy).
Law 10.4(c) reads: Kicking. A player must not kick an opponent.
Under the IRB's sanctioning regime for Foul Play, which ERC is obliged to follow, the entry points for a breach of Law 10.4(c) where a player kicks an opponent, are the following periods of suspension (in each case the suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world): 4 weeks (lower end), 8 weeks (mid range) and 12 weeks up to 52 weeks (top end).
The independent Judicial Officer, Judge Jeff Blackett (England), heard evidence and submissions from O'Gara, who pleaded guilty to the offence, from the Munster Rugby Chief Executive, Garrett Fitzgerald, and from the Munster Rugby Team Manager, Niall O'Donovan. He also heard submissions from the ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor.
The Judicial Officer upheld the complaint and found that O'Gara had committed a petulant act which was out of character. He determined that the act was in the lower end (4 weeks) of the IRB's sanctioning regime and taking into account the player's guilty plea and his good disciplinary record, the Judicial Officer reduced the suspension by 50 per cent.
Judge Blackett then determined that a two-week suspension would be wholly disproportionate to the level of offending as O'Gara had been body-checked by Sean Cox prior to the incident. He also accepted that O'Gara had intended to trip rather than to kick Cox.
As there were no aggravating factors, he imposed a suspension of one (1) week.
O'Gara will be free to play next Monday (21 January 2013). Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.
(i) Citing Commissioner
a) Citing Commissioners are 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 red card.
b) For such matches, clubs will not have the power to cite a player but may refer incidents to the Citing Commissioner within 26 hours of the start of the match.
c) The Citing Commissioner will have 50 hours from the start of the match to make a citing. In certain circumstances this deadline can be extended.
d) The ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, 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) Disciplinary Hearing
a) The independent Judicial Officer is chosen by the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Professor Lorne Crerar.
b) ERC's Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, presents the case against the player.
c) If a citing complaint is upheld, the independent Judicial Officer will be required to consider the appropriate sanction. Under the IRB's sanctioning regime, which ERC is obliged to follow, the Judicial Officer will first assess the seriousness of the player's actions and determine which of the three stipulated entry points (lower end, mid range and top end) is the most appropriate.
d) The Judicial Officer will determine the appropriate entry point based on his/her assessment of a number of particular characteristics of the player's actions, including whether or not they were intentional, whether or not they caused any injuries and whether or not they had any effect on the relevant match.
e) After deciding the entry point, the Judicial Officer will then consider whether the suspension should be increased from the entry point to take account of certain specified aggravating factors, such as a poor disciplinary record or the need for deterrence, and/or decreased from the entry point to take account of certain specified mitigating actions, such as a guilty plea, a good disciplinary record, the player's conduct at the hearing and expressions of remorse.
d) A suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world.
e) 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 three (3) working days of receiving the full written decision of the Judicial Officer.
f) The full written decision of the Judicial Officer will be available on www.ercrugby.com/disciplinenews when the disciplinary process is complete
g) For IRB Sanctions for Foul Play, found at Appendix 1 to IRB Regulation 17, click here