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    WATCH: Schalk Brits, saint ... or sinner?

    2019-04-02 12:24

    Cape Town - South African social media exploded on Tuesday when it was confirmed that Bulls hooker Schalk Brits' appeal against a four-week ban for his part in the punch-up with Sharks direct opponent Akker van der Merwe had failed

    The incident between the players has dominated headlines since they were both red-carded following their altercation in Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Durban. 

    Van der Merwe, clearly the instigator in the fist fight, was handed a shorter three-week ban

    The initial reasoning behind the respective punishments was difficult to fathom, but a closer look at SANZAAR's explanation for handing Brits a more severe ban helps (in part) put things into perspective. 

    "The Judicial Committee was conscious of the fact that the player was not the instigator of the incident, but due to the player's previous two periods of suspension for striking offences, the Judicial Committee were unable to provide the full 50% discount for the sanction," the statement read.

    Both players initially faced a six-week suspension, but Van der Merwe's was halved because of his previously clean record. 

    While there will be some - perhaps many - who will feel Brits' red card wasn't warranted in the first place, once it was decided to refer the matter to the SANZAAR Judicial Committee, there was always the risk his previous indiscretions would come back to cost him. 

    The first of those two periods of suspension came in 2013 when Brits was yellow carded - and subsequently suspended for three weeks - after punching British and Irish Lions flyhalf Owen Farrell while playing for the Barbarians. 

    The second incident occurred in 2016 when Brits was red-carded - and suspended for three weeks - after footage showed him punching Gloucester hooker Nick Wood while playing for Saracens.

    The ban means that Brits miss home matches against the Jaguares (Saturday, April 6) and Reds (Saturday, April 13), away to the Stormers (Saturday, April 27) and home to the Waratahs (Saturday, May 4).

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