Six week ban from rugby for Lions flank Rhodes

Lions flank Michael Rhodes has been banned for six weeks after he tackled Highlanders wing Siale Piutau dangerously by the neck in last weekend’s Super Rugby match.

Rhodes and Siale Piutau attended hearings chaired by SANZAR Judicial Officer, Nick Davidson QC in Wellington on Monday.

Both players were cited after an incident in a Super Rugby match in Dunedin last Saturday in which Rhodes used a dangerous headlock to clear Piutau at a ruck. The wing retaliated by twice punching Rhodes to the head.

The Judicial Officer’s findings are as follows:

1 Michael Rhodes

Rhodes was found guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (e) relating to the dangerous tackling of a player without the ball and was suspended for six weeks.

The SANZAR Judicial Officer ruled that Rhodes had flipped Piutau over in a dangerous manner “placing his head and neck at serious risk of injury”. Davidson added that video evidence showed Piutau in a highly compromised and dangerous position.

Davidson ruled that in order for Rhodes’ suspension to be effective it should encompass six matches and he is therefore ruled out of all rugby up to and including 31 July 2011.

Rhodes has the right to appeal the sanction.

2 Siale Piutau

Piutau was found guilty of breaching foul play Law 10.4 (a) relating to punching but has not been sanctioned due to the “exceptional circumstances” of the incident.

The SANZAR Judicial Officer ruled that whilst the player admitted to foul play he had been “seriously compromised” in the incident involving Rhodes.

The Judicial Officer concluded Piutau’s reaction was that of someone who had been “seriously endangered”. He added that to impose a sanction in these circumstances “would not reflect the effect on Piutau of the incident and a reaction that was the product of shock rather than retaliatory intent”.

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