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Ireland flying in solicitor to represent Aki at disciplinary hearing in Tokyo

The inside centre was red-carded in last night’s win over Samoa in Fukuoka.

IRELAND ARE FLYING in a legal representative ahead of Bundee Aki’s confirmed disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on Monday.

The Connacht man was red-carded for a high tackle on Samoa out-half UJ Seuteni in yesterday’s 47-5 victory.

Aki will have to face a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo at 7.30pm local time [11.30am Irish time] on Monday, and Ireland have already got a legal representative en route to Japan.

ireland-v-samoa-pool-a-2019-rugby-world-cup-fukuoka-hakatanomori-stadium Aki was sent off in Fukuoka last night. Source: Adam Davy

Former Terenure and Leinster scrum-half Derek Hegarty, now a partner with Dublin-based law firm William Fry, will handle the disciplinary case for Ireland, who hope Aki can escape a suspension.

World Rugby said the independent judicial committee with be chaired by Australia’s Adam Casselden SC, with former international coach Frank Hadden [Scotland] and former referee Valeriu Toma [Romania] also involved. 

A ban for Aki would see him miss next weekend’s World Cup quarter-final, and possibly any games beyond that should Ireland progress.

Speaking in Fukuoka this morning, Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell was unwilling to do into great detail on Aki’s tackle, but he did indicate that Ireland have some hope the disciplinary panel will take into account that the midfielder had only split seconds to react after Seuteni had gathered in the ball.

Indeed, it’s understood that Ireland have actually timed it as 0.2 seconds as they prepare their case.

“It’s tough, isn’t it?” said Farrell. “It’s tough, the reaction stuff. It’s very tough to judge.

“You can slow everything down and everyone has a comment, ‘Oh, what if this happened? What if that happened?’ But I’d like to think there’s a bit of feel in and around the whole situation.

“I said last week that I feel sorry for everyone who gets a red card. I don’t know anyone playing the game now in world rugby that means to do anything that warrants a red card.”

Speaking last night, Samoa head coach Steve Jackson said his team will do everything they can to ensure that Aki is not banned for the knock-out stages of the World Cup, although it remains to be seen how big an impact their testimony will have.

bundee-aki-with-rey-lee-lo-after-the-game Aki is close friends with several of the Samoa squad. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Asked about Aki’s red card after his side’s bonus-point victory, Ireland boss Joe Schmidt indicated his belief that the 29-year-old had genuinely been doing his best to make a legal tackle.

“I think Bundee is upright, you can see both of his hands behind the shoulder blades of the player who is just starting to come up,” said Schmidt. “It’s all split-second stuff.

“We live in hope. We’ll see what the judiciary decide but once it’s a red card, you sense a loss of control over what happens next.

“No matter what you try to present, there is a very hard line and I certainly feel for Bundee. He is pretty devastated that his tournament, any further participation in the tournament, is now at risk.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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