Sharks centre Esterhuizen banned for four weeks

Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen has been banned for four weeks for a dangerous tackle in his team’s 34-12 victory over the Stormers.

Esterhuizen was cited after the match and faced a SANZAR Judicial hearing at which he was suspended from all forms of the game for four weeks up to and including Sunday 19 July 2015.

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC accepted a guilty plea from Esterhuizen for contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle.

The incident occurred in the 10th minute of the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Stormers at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on 13 June 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC assessed the case.

In his finding, Mr Hampton ruled the following,”I initially reviewed the video footage, the Citing Commissioner’s report and the reports from the referee and TMO. I established that the player, Andre Esterhuizen, accepted he was guilty of the cited offence and I then identified the various factors involved in the incident.

“I considered the incident had an entry point in the low end range which starts at a four-week suspension for lifting tackles. It appeared from the video that the actions of the Sharks’ halfback had some effect on the Stormers’ player as he came to ground on his upper body. However, Esterhuizen was clearly the major contributor to this dangerous tackle, which he accepted.

“I then added two weeks as a deterrent to send a further message that this type of tackle cannot be tolerated in the game due to the risk it poses to players. There have been a number of decisions relating to lifting tackles this year with a deterrent increase of this size being added. An increase to this level of deterrent may be required in the future as the additional two-week increase to sanction does not seem to be having the required effect of getting rid of these tackles.

“Mitigating factors included the player admitting his guilt for the offence, being contrite for his actions and apologising to the tackled player. His good disciplinary record and youth were also taken into account. These mitigating factors entitled the player to a 50 per cent reduction of the four week entry point, so a reduction of two weeks, which resulted in a four-week sanction.

“The Sharks’ Super Rugby season is finished for 2015 and as such, the player’s commitments are now to his club, Varsity College Old Boys. I was provided with written confirmation that the club’s next three matches, in which the player would have played, take place over the next four weeks, plus a compulsory pre-Currie Cup match that the player would have been expected to play in for the Sharks.

“The player is accordingly found to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) and is suspended up to and including Sunday 19 July 2015.”

Duty Judicial Officer: Nigel Hampton QC
Player: Andre Esterhuizen
Team: Sharks
Position: Centre
Date of Incident: 13 June 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: 10th minute

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