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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Tipping point: Afoa banned for Heineken Cup semi

Ulster tight-head John Afoa has been handed a four week ban for his dangerous tackle on Felix Jones.

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

JOHN AFOA WILL miss Ulster’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh after being handed a four-week suspension by the ERC today.

The Kiwi prop was cited for a dangerous ‘tip tackle’ on Felix Jones during the northern province’s 22-16 win over Munster by commissioner Peter Larter.

Afoa plead not guilty at today’s hearing in Dublin, but judicial officer Jean-Nöel Couraud upheld the complaint.

Couraud ruled that the offence had warranted a red card and placed a provisional ban of six weeks on the former All Black, with an extra week to act as a deterrent to others.

That suspension would have ruled the tight-head out of the rest of the season, including a potential Heineken Cup final.

A statement from the ERC says that Couraud subsequently “considered the mitigating factors, including the player’s clean record, good character, age and experience,” before reducing the ban by three weeks.

Head coach, Brian McLaughlin, and director of rugby, David Humphreys will not be able to call on Afoa until after 7 May, meaning his season will be over if Ulster do not make it into the Pro12 play-offs or the Heineken Cup final in Twickenham.

Here’s the tackle again.

YouTube credit: TheUAFC

“Ulster Rugby is disappointed with the outcome,” said a statement from the province, which added: “John Afoa himself is very disappointed, particularly in view of his outstanding disciplinary record where he has never previously received a yellow or red card during his professional career.”

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Sean Farrell

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