The La Rochelle centre, Levani Botia, has been suspended for four weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing by video conference today (Wednesday 2 June) arising from the Heineken Champions final against Toulouse at Twickenham Stadium.

Botia was sent off by the referee, Luke Pearce (England), in the 28th minute of the match for tackling the Toulouse full back, Maxime Médard, in a dangerous manner in contravention of Law 9.13.

Law 9.13 A player must not tackle an opponent dangerously
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.13 relating to dangerous tackling carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.

An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Philippe Cavalieros (France), Chair, Leon Lloyd (England) and Frank Hadden (Scotland), considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence and submissions from the player, who accepted the red card decision, from the player’s legal representative, Christian Chevalier, from the La Rochelle Chief Executive, Pierre Venayre, from the La Rochelle legal counsel, Yves-Marie Fève, from the La Rochelle Sporting Director, Robert Mohr, from Philippe Rouch, Professor of Biomechanics, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

The Committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Botia had made contact with Médard’s head in a dangerous manner. It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected six weeks as the appropriate entry point.

Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and timely expression of remorse, as well as his prior disciplinary record, the Committee reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension which will conclude once La Rochelle’s TOP 14 fixture schedule is decided.

Both Botia and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.

Notes

(i) Red Cards
a) The case of any player sent off in Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches shall be adjudicated by an independent Disciplinary Committee or an independent Judicial Officer as soon as is practicable.
b) Until the hearing the player is ineligible to play in any tournament.
(ii) Citing Commissioner
a) Citing Commissioners are appointed by EPCR for all Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches and shall be entitled to cite a player for any act or acts of Foul Play that in the Citing Commissioner’s opinion warranted a red card.
b) For such matches, clubs will not have the power to cite a player but may refer incidents to the Citing Commissioner within 26 hours of the start of the match.
c) The Citing Commissioner will have 50 hours from the start of the match to make a citing. In certain circumstances this deadline can be extended.
d) The tournament Disciplinary Officer may forward the submitted citing to a Citing Officer to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for the citing to progress.
e) The Disciplinary Officer will then bring a charge against the cited player.
(iii) Disciplinary Hearing
a) The independent Disciplinary Committee or independent Judicial Officer are chosen by the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Mike Hamlin.
b) EPCR’s Disciplinary Officer presents the case against the player.
c) If a decision is upheld, the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer will be required to consider the appropriate sanction under World Rugby’s sanctioning regime, which EPCR is obliged to follow. The seriousness of the player’s actions will be first assessed in order to determine which of the three stipulated entry points (lower end, mid-range and top end) is the most appropriate.
d) The Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer will determine the appropriate entry point based on an 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 Disciplinary Committee or 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.
f) A suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world. Players are suspended on the basis that a one-week period of suspension would ordinarily result in a player missing one match. Suspensions take into account periods of inactivity (such as the close season), periods when a player is injured or otherwise not fit to play, and when a player is not available or not expected to play. Suspensions should also take into account any out-of-season matches which are not considered to be meaningful, or which are not close enough to the season to be a determining factor in a player’s future selection.
g) Both parties to the hearing (EPCR and the player) have the right to appeal decisions. Appeals must be lodged within three (3) working days of receiving the full written decision of the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer.
h) The full written decision will be available on www.epcrugby.com/discipline/hearing-decisions when the disciplinary process is complete.
i) For World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, found at Appendix 1 to World Rugby Regulation 17, go to www.world.rugby/organisation/governance/regulations/reg-17/appendix-1