Lions hooker Coetzee suspended for three weeks

Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee has been suspended for three matches after being found guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle in his team’s match against the Cheetahs on Saturday.

Coetzee has been suspended for three matches up to and including Saturday 20 June 2015 which rules him out of the rest of the regular Super Rugby season.

The Lions hooker will therefore only be able to appear for the Lions if they qualify for the Super Rugby Semi-finals on the weekend of the 26-27th of June.

The incident occurred in the 49th minute of the Super Rugby match between the Cheetahs and Lions at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on 23 May 2015.

The SANZAR Judicial Hearing was heard by Robert Stelzner SC via video conference at 8:30am SAST, 4:30pm AEST and 6:30pm NZST on 26 May 2015. John Langford was the former professional player who attended as a Judicial Technical Adviser.

In his finding, Stelzner ruled the following,”As the Judicial Officer, I considered all the evidence before me including the video footage, Citing Commissioner’s report, medical information for the Cheetahs’ player, Rayno Benjamin, who was involved in the incident and the submissions made for the player by his legal representative, Mr Frikkie Erasmus and Lions Defence Coach, Mr J.P. Ferreira.

“The player, through his legal representative, denied having committed an offence in terms of 10.4 (j) – Lifting Tackles. The video footage in my view clearly shows that the Cheetahs’ player was lifted and dropped into the ground whilst that player’s feet were off the ground, with the result that the player’s upper body and head came into contact with the ground. This is dangerous play in contravention of the applicable Law.

“After taking further facts into consideration, such as the player’s unsuccessful attempt to hold on to his opponent in the tackle, I found the incident to have a lower end entry point. A four week suspension is indicated for such offending.

“The need for a deterrent in the circumstances of this incident is in my view served by imposing a further week’s suspension.

“Mitigating factors included the player’s clean disciplinary record and the fact that he apologised to his opponent both at the time of the incident and after the match, thereby demonstrating remorse for his actions. This, amongst other factors, entitles the player to a reduction in the sanction of two weeks.

“The playing schedule of the player is such that his team has a bye in three weeks’ time. There is furthermore a good prospect that the team will be eligible to play in the Super Rugby Finals Series in the week thereafter. In the circumstances, a meaningful sanction would be to suspend the player for four weeks which translates into three matches.

“A three-week suspension was accordingly imposed but given that the Lions have a bye three weeks from now, the player is not allowed to take part in any rugby activity before 20 June 2015 in order for there to be a meaningful sanction.

“The player is accordingly found to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) and is suspended up to and including Saturday 20 June 2015.”

Hearing Details: 26 May 2015 @ 8:30am SAST, 4:30pm AEST and 6:30pm NZST via videoconference
Judicial Hearing Chairman: Robert Stelzner SC
Player: Robbie Coetzee
Team: Lions
Position: Hooker
Date of Incident: 23 May 2015
Nature of Offence: Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Elapsed time in match when incident occurred: 49th minute

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