One-game ban for Sunwolves lock
Cape Town - Sunwolves lock Hitoshi Ono has been suspended
for one week for foul play committed during his side’s Super Rugby clash with
the Brumbies in Canberra at the weekend.
SANZAAR duty judicial officer Michael Heron has accepted a
guilty plea from Ono for contravening Law 10.4 (a) - striking with head, after
he was cited during the Super Rugby match.
Ono received a sanction of one week (covering one scheduled
match) with his next scheduled match being Japan v Canada on June 11.
Consequently he is suspended up to and including Saturday 11 June 2016.
In his finding, Heron ruled the following:
"The player (Ono san), Shogo Tanaka san and Ms Crabtree
(legal counsel) attended on the call.
The player, through Ms Crabtree and Tanaka san, submitted that there was
no intention to strike the Brumbies player and the motions he engaged in with
his head were part of his body movements to assist the driving maul succeed.
"The player accepted there was foul play in that his
conduct was reckless and there was a risk of injury in the circumstances.
"Hitoshi Ono is currently the most capped Japanese
player (96 caps). He has a remarkable disciplinary record in that he has not
been cited or received a red card before this.
He is a leader in his club and for his country. He appears to have an exceptional
"Ms Crabtree made submissions to the effect that I
should see this as low end entry point (if it was not intentional and no injury
"Given all these features, I considered that the
appropriate entry point for the conduct was low end, and an entry point of four
weeks was appropriate.
"I considered that Ono san should receive at least the
maximum discount of 50% given the factors above. Further to that, I considered that a
suspension of two weeks would be wholly disproportionate to the conduct
involved, accepting that this was reckless behaviour and not intentional use of
"In particular the player's exceptional disciplinary
record made it very unlikely he would intend to strike another player with his
head. The statement from the referee supported that.
"Taking all that into account, I reached the conclusion
that a suspension of one week was appropriate, which would include the next
scheduled match on 11 June 2016, being Japan v Canada.
"Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of
rugby up to and including 11 June 2016."