Flip! Bulls captain BANNED
Flip van der Merwe (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks after being found guilty of foul play.
A SANZAR judicial hearing on Wednesday found Van der Merwe of the Bulls guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (a) - Punching or striking after he was cited following a Super Rugby match.
Van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks up to and including Sunday, May 11, which means he will miss the Bulls' matches against the Force in Perth (Saturday, April 26), and home matches against the Cheetahs (Saturday, May 3) and Stormers (Saturday, May 10).
The incident occurred in the 75th minute of the match between the Waratahs and Bulls at Allianz Stadium in Sydney last Saturday.
The Waratahs won 19-12.
The SANZAR judicial hearing, held via video conference on Wednesday, was heard by Adam Casselden who was assisted by former professional player, Eroni Clarke.
In his finding, Casselden ruled the following:
"Having heard the submissions from the player's counsel, Stephan Weyers, receiving evidence from the players, Flip van der Merwe and Paddy Ryan, and also reviewing the video footage a number of times along with other evidence, I found on the balance of probabilities that Mr Van der Merwe did strike Mr Ryan's nose with his hand, arm or fist but that no injury was sustained by Mr Ryan by reason of Mr Van der Merwe's action.
"Having considered all the matters that are in Regulation 17.9.2, I was satisfied that a mid-level entry point was appropriate, particularly considering the intent of Mr Van der Merwe to strike Mr Ryan and the vulnerable position Mr Ryan was placed in at the base of a collapsed scrum in circumstances where he could not protect himself from Mr Van der Merwe's action.
"A mid-level entry point dictates a suspension of five weeks, but due to the player's good character, lengthy professional playing career and his relatively clean disciplinary record, I was satisfied that the five week entry point should be reduced to three weeks.
"Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of rugby from Saturday, 26 April, 2014 up to and including Sunday, 11 May, 2014."