Tonga replacement back Viliami Fine appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.12 (striking) in Tonga’s international match against England on 6 November, 2021.
The independent Disciplinary Committee chaired by Roger Morris (Wales), joined by former international Lawrence Sephaka (South Africa) and former international referee Donal Courtney (Ireland), heard the case, considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative.
The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that: the player had struck his opponent with the upper part of his arm, that the strike was not a powerful strike and that there was no injury whatsoever to the other player.
On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.
Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s clean record, his early and complete acceptance of his guilt, his timely apology to his opponent and the helpful and engaged manner in which he had approached the disciplinary process the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):
- French Barbarians v Tonga – Saturday, 13 November, 2021
- Romania v Tonga – Saturday, 20 November, 2021
- One further match to be determined once the player’s schedule is confirmed
The player has the right of appeal within 48 hours of the issuing of the full written decision.