Ireland received a huge blow to their World Cup hopes with the news that Bundee Aki has been banned for three weeks and as a result, will miss the remainder of the tournament.
Aki received a straight red card for his high tackle on Ulupano Seuteni on Saturday and the independent Judicial Committee upheld referee Nic Berry’s on-field decision.
The offence required an automatic entry point of six weeks and after mitigation was applied, that was reduced to three weeks.
The IRFU are disappointed with the decision and they released a brief statement on the matter.
“The Ireland Management are disappointed with the outcome of Bundee’s hearing and will review the Judicial Committee’s written report once received.”
Ireland have 48 hours to appeal but it’s unclear whether they will pursue that avenue considering they may want to just fully focus on the task at hand which is a quarter-final clash with the All Blacks on Saturday.
In announcing the decision, World Rugby included the methodology and thinking behind coming to the conclusion of a three-week ban for Aki which you can find below.
“The committee considered the High Tackle Sanction Framework and decided the following:
- There was direct contact of the player’s left shoulder to the ball carrier’s head
- The Judicial Committee did not accept that there was a low degree of danger
- 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
- The committee did not accept that there was sufficient evidence of a sudden drop in the ball carrier‘s height
- 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
- The player was in open space and had a clear line of sight before the contact
- There are accordingly no clear and obvious mitigating factors
“Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, the committee did not find that the referee’s decision was wrong and the red card was upheld.”
Ireland are due to hold a press conference tomorrow at 07.10 am (IRE & UK time) where they will likely comment further on the decision and whether they will appeal.