Pascal Pape evidence at Sean O’Brien’s disciplinary hearing revealed.
Due to the leniency of Sean O’Brien’s ban, many fans have questioned the legitimacy of World Rugby’s disciplinary processes. Indeed, some pointed to the harsh punishment inflicted on Samoa’s Alesana Tuilagi, and accused the sports governing body of having double standards. Therefore, when World Rugby published the details of Sean O’Brien’s disciplinary hearing last night, it was going to be an interesting read.
At the hearing the Judicial Officer, Terry Willis, took evidence from the match officials, Sean O’Brien, Pascal Pape, and viewed the incident from numerous angles.
As many have read since the incident, O’Brien admitted to striking Pape, but claimed that he did so while ‘trying to get rid of the player off my side and get to where I wanted to be in the defensive line’.
Willis agreed stating that ‘there was a degree of grabbing by F4 [Pape] as he came on side to join the defensive line’. However he added ‘I cannot accept that the player was taken out of the Irish defensive line. I find that F4 was involved in a degree of gamesmanship having his hand on the back of the player.’ Nevertheless Willis contended, ‘I cannot accept that there was a significant degree of pulling or dragging of the player [O’Brien] by F4’.
Indeed Pape claimed that he ‘could not recall’ grabbing O’Brien and denied pulling the Irish flanker. The French flanker also claimed ‘I received a violent punch on the area of the sternum. Due to the intensity of the pain, I collapsed to the ground and couldn’t breath any more… All along the game I felt a violent pain in the area where I had been beaten’.
I t would appear form reading Willis’ findings that O’Brien may have indeed got off lightly.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena