Sharks

Sharks hooker Du Plessis slapped with 4 week ban

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South Africa and Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been slapped with
a four week suspension for kicking Chiefs No.8 Michael Leitch in the head.

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden accepted a guilty plea from
Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (c) A player must
not kick an opponent, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at
the weekend.

Du Plessis has been suspended from all forms of the game for four weeks up
to and including 18 April 2015.

The incident occurred in the 18th minute of the match between the Sharks and
Chiefs played at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on 21 March 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden assessed the case.

In his finding, Casselden ruled the following,’The player’s kick
was pre-meditated, intentional and unprovoked. It was reckless, that is the
player knew (or should have known) there was a risk of committing an act of
foul play. In my opinion the offence was a grave one and the possibility of
serious injury existed.

“The Chiefs’ No. 8 was in a vulnerable position on the ground. He did
not see the kick, even if he had, he had limited means available to him, given
the position of his arms and body, to protect himself from the player’s
actions.

“Whilst the player claims he was frustrated by Chiefs’ No. 8 not releasing
him from the tackle earlier that does not, in my opinion, entitle him to retaliate
by kicking his opponent in the area of the head with a studded boot. The head
is of course sacrosanct.

“Mr. Swart, the Player’s representative, submitted that the offence
was in the lower end of seriousness, particularly given no injury was sustained
by Chiefs’ No. 8. I was unable to accede to that submission. Whilst it was fortunate
that the player did not sustain an injury, he was nonetheless placed in a vulnerable
position and the risk of him sustaining an injury to his head including in and
around the eye area was clearly present. Accordingly, I found that the offence
should be categorised as a mid-range offence and that the entry point of an
eight-week suspension was the relevant starting point.

“I was informed that the player was suspended for three weeks in 2008
for dangerous contact to the head area of an opponent. Apart from that indiscretion,
the player has not been found guilty of any foul play. In 2012 he received two
yellow cards (a red card offence) in the one Test match against New Zealand
which resulted in him being ordered off the playing enclosure. At the subsequent
judicial hearing there was a finding by the judicial officer that the referee’s
decision to issue one of the yellow cards was wrong. As a result, the red card
issued in that Test match was expunged from his record.

“Although the player was suspended seven years ago for dangerous contact
to the head of an opponent that does not, in my opinion, categorise the player
as a repeat offender of the game to warrant any uplift on the entry point as
an aggravating factor.

“Since 2008 it seems he has been a model player and in my opinion, no
other aggravating factors existed for consideration other than those which were
taken into account in determining the appropriate entry point.

“The player has played professional rugby for approximately 12 years.
He has played 77 Test matches for South Africa, 125 Super Rugby matches and
in the order of 47 Currie Cup matches. Apart from a three week suspension in
2008 the player’s disciplinary record is unblemished. This is his first
red card offence in a lengthy first class playing career.

“I accepted that the player’s remorse and contrition for his offending
was genuine and his acceptance that he committed an act of foul play at the
earliest opportunity.

“Having regard to the above mitigating factors and the overall culpability
of the player’s offending, I was satisfied that the eight week entry point
should be reduced to four weeks. Accordingly, I offered the player a four week
suspension as a preliminary indication of penalty in accordance with the DJO
process, which was accepted.”

“The player is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including Saturday
18 April 2015.”

All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty
Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.

For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must
plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.

Duty Judicial Officer: Adam Casselden
Player: Bismarck du Plessis
Team: Sharks
Position: Hooker
Date of Incident: 21 March 2015
Nature of Offence: 10.4 (c) A player must not kick an opponent.
Elapsed time in match when incident occurred: 18th minute

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