Scot free

This swinging arm got Saracens flanker Burger suspended for just one week

Jacques Burger is now free to play in the club’s Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont.

SARACENS FLANKER JACQUES Burger will be free to play in his club’s Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont on 18 April after being suspended for just one week for a striking offence.

The back row was cited following last weekend’s quarter-final win over Racing Métro for allegedly striking the Top 14 side’s scrum-half, Maxime Machenaud.

Burger pleaded guilty to the offence at today’s disciplinary hearing, which also heard submissions and evidence from Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, and the club’s team manager, JP O’Reilly.

The independent judicial officer, Simon Thomas, ruled that the offence – which fell under Law 10.4 (a) – had been reckless and warranted a red card. That punishment was not the case during last weekend’s game, as the match officials missed the incident.

Judicial officer Thomas determined that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby’s sanctions, which would have entailed a two-week suspension and meant Burger missing the Clermont game.

Law 10.4(a) Striking another player with a hand, arm or fist

Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 10.4(a) carries the following sanction entry points – low end: two weeks; mid-range: five weeks; top end: 8+ to 52 weeks.

However, Thomas found that there were “no aggravating factors and he reduced the suspension by the maximum amount of one week due to the player’s guilty plea, early expression of remorse, good conduct during the hearing and clean disciplinary record.”

Burger is eligible to play again from Monday, 13 April, and therefore is clear to take on Clermont in Saint-Ettiene. Saracens and their back row have the right to appeal the decision.

The flanker will miss Saracens’ Premiership meeting with Leicester on Saturday, although it’s quite likely he would have been rested for that fixture anyway.

-Originally published 15.32

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