Billy Vunipola Red Card Overturned
Billy Vunipola has had his red card overturned following an independent Disciplinary Hearing arising from his club’s Investec Champions Cup, Round 1 match against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Vunipola was sent off by the referee, Andrea Piardi (Italy), in the 52nd minute of the match for a dangerous strike to the head area of the Vodacom Bulls No 8, Cameron Hanekom, in contravention of Law 9.12 and Law 9.11.
Law 9.12 Physical abuse of an opponent – punching or striking with hand, arm, elbow or shoulder
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.12 relating to striking with the hand, arm, elbow or shoulder carries the following sanction entry points - Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks
Law 9.11 Reckless or dangerous play – leading with the elbow or forearm
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.11 relating to dangerous play carries the following sanction entry points - Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks
An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Jennifer Donovan (Ireland), Chair, Tony Wheat (Ireland) and Valeriu Toma (Romania), viewed footage of the incident and heard evidence by video conference from Vunipola, who accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but did not accept that it warranted a red card.
The committee also heard submissions from the Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall, from the Saracens Team Manager, Warrick Lang, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
The committee determined that Vunipola had committed an act of foul play, however, it decided that there was insufficient force in the contact to Hanekom’s head to warrant a red card, and the red card was therefore overturned.
Vunipola is free to play immediately and EPCR has the right to appeal the decision.