Ireland and Connacht centre Bundee Aki suspended for eight games

Bundee Aki picked up his third red of his career last weekend
Bundee Aki picked up his third red of his career last weekend

Ireland and Connacht centre Bundee Aki has been handed an eight-week ban following his red card incident in the recently concluded United Rugby Championship game against Sotrmers.

The 32-year-old was sent-off at the end of the third quarter after making contact with Senatla's head with his shoulder before having a heated discussion with the referee as the Irish province suffered a 15-38 defeat.

He will now miss the five United Rugby Championship games for Connacht that includes derby games against Leinster and Munster.

The news will also be a big blow for Ireland as Aki, who played a pivotal role in their series win in New Zealand will miss the end of the year games against South Africa and Fiji. He could be available to play in that Test should he complete a Coaching Intervention Programme.

He was initially handed a 10-week suspension that was reduced by four taking into account the mitigating factors. However, another two weeks were added to the ban considering this was his third red card in the last three years.

"The Disciplinary process related to Bundee Aki's (Connacht Rugby) Red Card in the BKT United Rugby Championship Round 2 game against DHL Stormers on Saturday, September 24 2022 has resulted in an eight-week ban," a statement read.

"After an act of foul play against DHL Stormers player No 11 (Seabelo Senatla) referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed the Player a Red Card in the 60th minute of the game under Law 9.20(a) - A Player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another Player in the ruck or maul.

"In his responses to the Judicial Officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman, Scotland), the Player had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a Red Card.

"She determined that the Player's actions towards Seabelo Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in the Player's actions. Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.

"However, Ms. Woodman also considered the Player's actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the Red Card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect. This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC's Disciplinary Rules) in determining that the Player's offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.

"The Judicial Officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that the Player's acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his club coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors. These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.

"The Player's previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the Judicial Officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.

"As a result the Player will be suspended for a period of eight weeks.

"Should the Player complete the Coaching Intervention Programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week."


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