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Bundee Aki handed eight-week ban following Connacht red card

The centre was sent off for a dangerous clearout during last weekend’s URC defeat to the Stormers.

Referee Gianluca Gnecchi talking to Jarrad Butler and (right) Bundee Aki.
Referee Gianluca Gnecchi talking to Jarrad Butler and (right) Bundee Aki.
Image: Steve Haag/INPHO

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL BUNDEE Aki has been banned for eight weeks. 

Connacht’s vice-captain was shown a red card for a dangerous clearout to the head of Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla during the second half of last weekend’s 38-15 URC loss

Following his sending off, 32-year-old Aki protested to referee Gianluca Gnecchi and continued on the sideline afterwards.

The province’s assistant coach, Dewald Seneka, later revealed that Aki was “extremely apologetic” over the incident.

A disciplinary process has today opted to hand Aki an eight-week suspension, meaning he will be unavailable for URC games against the Bulls, Munster, Leinster, Scarlets and Ospreys, as well as Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series Tests with South Africa and Fiji.

He could return one week early to face Australia on 19 November, however, if he successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme.

“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,” a URC statement reads.

“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.”

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