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Double trouble: Matu'u to join Lee-Lo with three match ban

Hooker Motu Matu'u faces four games on the sidelines of Manu Samoa's Rugby World Cup campaign, with concussion and a three match ban likely to keep him out beyond the tournament's pool stage.

An independent judicial committee deemed that his yellow card tackle against Russia was an act of foul play and warranted a red card for the following reasons:

  • it was a reckless high tackle which made contact with the head of the opposition ball carrier
  • a high degree of danger was reflected in the approach to the contact and follow-through
  • the factors against mitigation in the High Tackle Sanction Framework were present, in that the tackler and the ball carrier were in open space and the tackler had clear line of sight of the ball carrier
  • the majority of the committee were not satisfied that the change in height of the ball carrier was unreasonable and/or outside the estimation of the player. The player’s execution of the tackle resulted in a loss of control of the terms of contact with the opposition ball carrier

As such they applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum six-match suspension, reducing the sanction for Matu’u’s previous disciplinary record, good character and conduct at the hearing.

The sanction applies to the next three matches Matu’u is scheduled to play in, and because of the graduated return to play protocol the hooker is going through having failed a head injury assessment in the Russia game, he is not scheduled to play against Scotland on Monday night.

He will therefore miss Samoa’s final two pool matches and the quarter-final should Samoa progress, or his next scheduled match with his club London Irish on 26 October, 2019. The suspension will therefore end at midnight after the Rugby World Cup 2019 quarter-finals if Samoa qualify or at midnight on 26 October if Samoa do not qualify for the quarter-finals, after which he is free to resume playing.

Matu'u has the right to appeal the ban within 48 hours of receiving the written decision.

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