Ireland will have to plan for their clash with the All Blacks without the services of Bundee Aki who has been banned for three games following his dismissal against Samoa.
The Ireland centre received a straight red card from referee Nic Berry in the 29th minute of their 47-5 win in Fukuoka.
As the Samoan fly-half Ulupano Seuteni went to collect a loose Irish pass that had fallen to the ground, Aki’s shoulder made direct contact with his head while attempting a tackle.
While his arms were wrapped, the TMO and referee decided that there were not enough mitigating factors and a red card was shown.
29: RED Card!
"There is not enough of a mitigating factor there to bring that down to anything but a red"
Bundee Aki has been sent off for a dangerous tackle.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) October 12, 2019
Aki appeared before a disciplinary hearing in Toyko on Monday with former Terenure and Leinster player Derek Hegarty, a partner with Dublin-based law firm William Fry, as his legal counsel having been flown in by the IRFU on Sunday.
The Judicial Committee, chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia), former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former referee Valeriu Toma (Romania), the committee reduced the six-week entry point by the maximum permitted three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks, which equates to three matches in the context of Rugby World Cup 2019.
The committee considered the High Tackle Sanction Framework and based their decision on the following:
1. There was direct contact of the player’s left shoulder to the ball carrier’s head.
2. The Judicial Committee did not accept that there was a low degree of danger.
3. Although the tackle occurred quickly, the player’s tackle height was high and it was accepted he did not make a definite attempt to change his height in order to avoid the ball carrier’s head.
4. The committee did not accept that there was sufficient evidence of a sudden drop in the ball carrier‘s height.
5. The tackle was an attempted dominant tackle, rather than a reactionary tackle, and in any event there was no immediate release as the player wrapped his arms around the Samoa No.10.
6. The player was in open space and had a clear line of sight before the contact.
7. There are accordingly no clear and obvious mitigating factors.
The reduction of the discipline came as a result of Aki’s good disciplinary record.
Aki will now miss Ireland’s quarter-final against New Zealand on 19 October, the semi-final and final of Rugby World Cup 2019 should Ireland qualify or should Ireland not qualify for these games, the player’s next club match or matches with Connacht in the PRO14 on his return from international duty.