The London Irish hooker, David Paice, has been suspended for three weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round 5 match against Grenoble at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, 17 January 2015.
Paice was sent off by referee, Dudley Phillips (Ireland), in the 57th minute of the Pool 1 game for allegedly striking the Grenoble full-back, Julien Caminati (No 15), with his head in contravention of Law 10.4(a).
Law 10.4(a) Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knees.
Under World Rugby's Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 10.4(a), Striking with the Head, carries the following sanction entry points: Low End: 4 weeks; Mid-Range: 10 weeks; Top End: 16 to 104 weeks.
The independent Judicial Officer, Jean-Noel Couraud (France), heard evidence and submissions from Paice, who pleaded not guilty to the offence, from the London Irish Interim Head Coach, Glenn Delaney, and the London Irish Team Manager, Kieran McCarthy, as well as from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer.
In upholding the red card decision, the Judicial Officer found that Paice had committed an act of foul play. He concluded that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby’s sanctions for offences of this nature and selected four weeks as the appropriate entry point.
Taking into account the player’s good conduct at the hearing, the Judicial Officer reduced the sanction by the maximum of one week and imposed a suspension of three weeks.
Paice is free to play on Monday, 9 February 2015. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.
(i) Red Cards
a) The case of any player sent off in European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup games shall be adjudicated by an independent Judicial Officer as soon as is practicable.
b) Until the hearing the player is ineligible to play in any tournament.
(ii) Disciplinary Hearing
a) The independent Judicial Officer is chosen by the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Professor Lorne Crerar.
b) EPCR's Disciplinary Officer presents the case against the player.
c) If a red card decision is upheld, the independent Judicial Officer will be required to consider the appropriate sanction. Under World Rugby's sanctioning regime, which EPCR is obliged to follow, the Judicial Officer will first assess the seriousness of the player's actions and determine which of the three stipulated entry points (lower end, mid range and top end) is the most appropriate.
d) The Judicial Officer will determine the appropriate entry point based on his/her assessment of a number of particular characteristics of the player's actions, including whether or not they were intentional, whether or not they caused any injuries and whether or not they had any effect on the relevant match.
e) After deciding the entry point, the Judicial Officer will then consider whether the suspension should be increased from the entry point to take account of certain specified aggravating factors, such as a poor disciplinary record or the need for deterrence, and/or decreased from the entry point to take account of certain specified mitigating actions, such as a guilty plea, a good disciplinary record, the player's conduct at the hearing and expressions of remorse.
d) A suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world.
e) Both parties to the hearing (EPCR and the player) have the right to appeal decisions of the independent Disciplinary Hearing. Appeals must be lodged within three (3) working days of receiving the full written decision of the Judicial Officer.
f) The full written decision of the Judicial Officer will be available on www.epcrugby.com/discipline/news.php when the disciplinary process is complete.
g) For World Rugby's Sanctions for Foul Play, found at Appendix 1 to World Rugby Regulation 17, please go to www.worldrugby.org