Alesana Tuilagi, the Leicester Tigers wing (No 11), appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee in Dublin today (Thursday, 23 April)...
... as a result of a citing arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Bath Rugby at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday, 11 April, 2009.
The citing lodged by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Douglas Hunter (Scotland), was for allegedly playing Bath Rugby full-back Nick Abendanon (No 15) without the ball in contravention of Law 10.4 (f).
The independent Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Pat Barriscale (Ireland) and also comprising Jean-Noel Couraud (France) and Dr Barry O'Driscoll (Ireland), found Mr Tuilagi guilty of foul play in that he had played Nick Abendanon without the ball.
After considering the evidence, the independent Disciplinary Committee determined that the offence was at the mid-range of the level of seriousness for an offence of playing an opponent without a ball.
Having taken into account any mitigating and aggravating factors the independent Disciplinary Committee suspended the player for a period of four (4) weeks starting today 23 April and running up to and including Thursday, 21 May 2009
Both parties have the right to appeal.
Peter Brown (Scotland) who had been named in the independent Disciplinary Committee was unavailable and was replaced by Dr Barry O'Driscoll (Ireland).
Law 10.4 (f) - Playing an opponent without a ball. Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player must not hold, or push, or charge into, or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.
(i) Citing Commissioner
a) Citing Commissioners will be appointed by ERC for all Heineken Cup and all televised European 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) Should the Citing Commissioner decide there is a case to answer he will notify the Disciplinary Officer and the Disciplinary Officer will then bring a charge against the cited player.
e) This case will then proceed to a disciplinary hearing.
(ii) Independent Disciplinary Committee
a) Citings will be heard by an independent Disciplinary Committee as soon as is practicable. Until the hearing a cited player is eligible to play in ERC tournaments
b) The independent Disciplinary Committee 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 Committee. 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 Disciplinary Committee will be available on www.ercrugby.com/disciplinenews when the disciplinary process is complete
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.