Nico Lee has been handed a 13-week ban because he “cleared the contents of his nose onto the face of an opposing player thereby committing an act of foul play”, a statement from the Guinness PRO14 confirmed today.
The Cheetahs player was reported by the Citing Commissioner in charge for alleged infringement of Law 9.27 – A Player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship.
The incident took place during Connacht’s 25-17 victory over the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The Panel found that: “The Player’s actions are an act of foul play. They have no place in the game. This is not a case of over-exuberance, or an act which is within the rules of the game going awry. It follows that by its nature this act is one that is deserving of punishment. It is contrary to the spirit of sport.”
It was accepted that: “The effect on the victim player was understandably serious. There is no expectation, and there ought never be an expectation, that an opposing player would clear the contents of their nose onto an opponent.”
Cheetahs player Nico Lee banned for 13 weeks after he "accepted that he had cleared the contents of his nose onto the face of an opposing player." pic.twitter.com/bpXRqT0L6l
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) February 20, 2019
Lee was initially handed a 26-week ban but that was cut in half due to his admission of guilt, his clean disciplinary record and that there was demonstrable “regret and an element of embarrassment about the situation.”
In reaching that conclusion the Panel found that: “It is difficult to imagine how an act of foul play of this sort could be worse, save for repeated acts or where actual injury is caused.”
The player is banned for a period of 13 games due to extra consideration given to the rugby calendar for the rest of the season and for domestic fixtures in South Africa. Lee is free to play from midnight on Sunday, July 21, 2019.