O’Gara given one-week ban for kicking
Rugby:Ronan O’Gara will miss Munster’s final pool match in the Heineken Cup this weekend but will be available for the Six Nations after receiving a one-week ban for kicking Edinburgh’s Sean Cox last weekend. Given the recommended punishment for an offence at the low end of the scale is four weeks, O’Gara could be considered fortunate to miss just a single match.
O’Gara was cited following the incident at Murrayfield. He admitted the charge when he appeared at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin today in front of independent judicial officer Judge Jeff Blackett.
“The judicial officer upheld the complaint and found that O’Gara had committed a petulant act which was out of character,” ERC said. “He determined that the act was in the lower end (four 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 week.”
Munster play Racing Metro this weekend with the French side also without a key player through suspension after centre Fabrice Estebanez received a four-week ban for striking Saracens and England wing David Strettle during their Heineken Cup game last weekend. Tournament officials announced the outcome following a disciplinary hearing in Dublin.
Estebanez, who pleaded not guilty after being cited for the offence, cannot play again until February 11th. Strettle was carried off following the third-minute incident in Nantes, although he has now recovered and is in selection contention for Saracens’ final group game against Edinburgh on Sunday.
Independent judicial officer Pat Barriscale heard evidence and submissions from Estebanez.
In a statement, European Rugby Cup said: “The judicial officer upheld the complaint and found that Estebanez had committed a reckless act.
“He determined that the act was in the mid range (five weeks) of the IRB (International Rugby Board)’s sanctioning regime, and taking into account the limited mitigating factors of the player’s remorse and good conduct during the hearing, the judicial officer reduced the suspension by one week.”
Stade Francais player Juan Cruz Guillemain, who also appeared at a Dublin hearing today, was banned for five weeks. Guillemain was cited for striking Grenoble player Fabien Alexandre with his head during last Saturday’s Amlin Challenge Cup game between the clubs. Guillemain can play again on February 18th.