Nalaga was alleged to have struck the Racing Metro 92 wing, Marc Andreu (No 14), with his knee during the second half of the match at Stade Yves du Manoir in contravention of Law 10.4(a).
The complaint was made by the match Citing Commissioner, John West (Ireland).
Under ERC's discipline rules, the complaint was referred by ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, to a 'gatekeeper' for review. The gatekeeper, Douglas Hunter (Scotland), considered the evidence and found that in his opinion the incident warranted a red card and that the citing should proceed.
Law 10.4(a) Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s)
Under the IRB Sanctions for Foul Play (striking with the knee), Law 10.4(a) carries the following penalties: Low End: 3 weeks; Mid Range: 8 weeks; Top End: 12 to 52 weeks.
The independent Judicial Officer, Antony Davies (England), heard evidence and submissions from Nalaga, ASM Clermont Auvergne's legal representative, Charles Fribourg, and ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor.
The Judicial Officer determined that while Nalaga's lifting of the knee constituted reckless foul play, he did not regard the action as warranting a red card. He added that in his opinion, there was no intent on Nalaga's part to injure Andreu, and that Andreu's technique in the tackle was poor.
The Judicial Officer expressed his concern to Nalaga regarding the player's high knee-lift going into a contact situation before deciding to uphold the citing complaint, and not to impose any sanction.
(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 http://www.ercrugby.com/eng/discipline/news when the disciplinary process is complete
g) For IRB Sanctions for Foul Play, found at Appendix 1 to IRB Regulation 17, please go to www.irb.com