Messam guilty but free to play on for Chiefs

Chiefs Super Rugby captain Liam Messam has been found guilty of acting contrary to good sportsmanship but will not face any further sanction.

Flanker Messam was cited by SANZAR for a dangerous tackle in the Chiefs 12-11 loss to the Sharks in Durban on the weekend and has been found guilty of an incident involving Sharks’ flank Renaldo Bothma.

SANZAR Judicial Hearing Chairman Jannie Lubbe SC downgraded the offence after taking other factors into account.

“I reviewed the video footage, the Citing Commissioner’s report and heard submissions from the player’s counsel, Mr Aaron Lloyd, Chiefs’ head coach, Dave Rennie and the player himself,” said Lubbe about his ruling.

The original charge of a breach of Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling was amended to a breach of Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship. Amending a charge during the course of a hearing is a power allowed to Judicial Officers by the SANZAR Judicial Rules.

“Mr Lloyd did not object to the amendment and Mr Messam then pleaded guilty to the amended charge. I found the entry point to be at the lower end and after careful consideration of possible mitigating and aggravating features involved, the player’s exemplary disciplinary record across a lengthy career including 134 Super Rugby matches and 42 Test matches for the All Blacks, I concluded that no further sanction should be imposed as a suspension would be wholly disproportionate to the level of offending involved in this case.

“From the video footage, it is clear that the tackle was initially legal. The right arm then slipped around the neck of Sharks’ No. 7 after they went to ground and holding on to the tackled player around his neck in such a manner puts the player in a vulnerable position.

“On the particular facts of this matter and without setting a precedent for these type of actions, it would be wholly disproportionate to the level and type of offending involved to impose a sanction on the player.

“Therefore, the player is found to be guilty of Law 10.4 (m) and no sanction is imposed on the player.”

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