Bundee Aki will miss Ireland’s autumn internationals against South Africa and Fiji as he received an eight-week ban following his red card for Connacht last weekend.
The centre was given his marching orders for a dangerous shoulder-to-head clearout on Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla on the hour mark of their United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
Before leaving the field, however, Aki remonstrated with the referee about the decision so his dissent has been factored into the length of his suspension by the judicial officer overseeing the process.
Aki will miss at least five URC rounds for his province and two of three Ireland Tests in November but he could return to face Australia if he completes the head contact process coaching intervention.
Aki’s challenge on Senatla was declared “reckless” by the judicial officer and fell within mid-range on the scale of seriousness but his arguing with the official carried an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.
A URC statement said: “The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that the player’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his club coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors. These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.
“The player’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.
“As a result the player will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. Should the player complete the coaching intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.”