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O’Gara To Miss Racing Match

O’Gara To Miss Racing Match

Ronan O’Gara will sit out Munster’s all-important Heineken Cup round 6 clash with Racing Metro 92 on Sunday after being handed a one-week suspension for kicking Edinburgh’s Sean Cox.

Ronan O’Gara’s ban was confirmed at an independent disciplinary hearing in Dublin this evening. He will be free to play from next Monday (January 21), meaning he will be available for the start of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

During last weekend’s Edinburgh-Munster match at Murrayfield, O’Gara was alleged to have kicked Edinburgh lock Sean Cox in contravention of law 10.4(c) – Kicking, a player must not kick an opponent – of the IRB’s laws of the game.

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The complaint was made by citing commissioner Alberto Recaldini from Italy.

Under the IRB’s sanctioning regime for foul play, which ERC is obliged to follow, the entry points for a breach of law 10.4(c) where a player kicks an opponent, are the following periods of suspension (in each case the suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world): 4 weeks (lower end), 8 weeks (mid range) and 12 weeks up to 52 weeks (top end).

The independent judicial officer, Judge Jeff Blackett (England), heard evidence and submissions from O’Gara, who pleaded guilty to the offence, and from Munster Rugby Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald and Munster team manager Niall O’Donovan.

He also heard submissions from the ERC disciplinary officer Roger O’Connor.

The judicial officer upheld the complaint and found that O’Gara had committed a petulant act which was out of character.

He determined that the act was in the lower end (4 weeks) of the IRB’s sanctioning regime and taking into account the player’s guilty plea and his good disciplinary record, the judicial officer reduced the suspension by 50%.

Judge Blackett then determined that a two-week suspension would be wholly disproportionate to the level of offending as O’Gara had been body-checked by Cox prior to the incident. He also accepted that O’Gara had intended to trip rather than to kick Cox.

As there were no aggravating factors, he imposed a suspension of one week. Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.