London Irish hooker Agustin Creevy has been banned for a week following an independent disciplinary hearing in his club’s EPCR Challenge Cup quarter-finals game against RC Toulon at the Stade Félix Mayol.
Creevy was taken off the game, citing Commissioner Eugene Ryan (Ireland), for pulling the hair of Eben Etzebeth, from the second row of RC Toulon, in the 35th minute of the game, breaking rule 9.27.
Rule 9.27: A player must not do anything unsportsmanlike
Under World Rugby Regulations, penalties for foul play in breach of Rule 9.27 – pulling or grabbing hair – have the following entry points – low grade: 2 weeks; medium grade: 4 weeks; higher degree: from 6 to 52 weeks.
The Independent Disciplinary Committee, composed of Chairman Simon Thomas (Wales) and Marcello D’Orey (Portugal) heard evidence from Creevy, who accepted the charges, London Irish Sporting Director Declan Kidney, London Ireland Team Manager Alex James, and that of Liam McTiernan, EPCR Disciplinary Officer.
The commission upheld the citation, noting that Creevy had intentionally pulled Etzebeth’s hair in a way that deserved a red card. It determined that the offense fell within the low tier of the World Rugby penalty schedule and so chose an entry point of two weeks.
As the player admitted to having committed a foul and that he had a good disciplinary record, it was decided to grant the full 50% mitigating circumstances reduction. The Commission therefore reduced the sanction by one week before imposing a one-week suspension of the sanction.
Creevy will miss the Premiership Rugby Cup final against Worcester Warriors next Tuesday (17 May) and will be able to play again from Wednesday (18 May). The player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.
(i) Red Cards
a) Cases of players banned from Champions Cup or EPCR Challenge Cup matches will be investigated by an independent Disciplinary Committee or independent judicial officer as soon as possible.
b) The player concerned may not participate in any competition until the disciplinary hearing.
(ii) The quoting Commissioner
a) A Citation Commissioner shall be appointed by the EPCR for each Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup match and shall have the power to citation a player for any foul play which in the opinion of the Citation Commissioner, citation, would have merited a red card.
b) For these matches, clubs are not authorized to nominate a player themselves, but may report an incident to the citation officer within 26 hours of the start of the match in question.
c) The citation commissioner has 50 hours from the start of the game to submit his appeal. In exceptional cases, this period can be extended.
d) The Disciplinary Officer will refer the subpoena in question to a Subpoena Officer who will determine whether there are sufficient grounds to subpoena a player to a disciplinary hearing.
e) The disciplinary officer will then bring the case against the player.
(iii) The Disciplinary Hearing
a) The Independent Disciplinary Committee or Independent Judicial Officer shall be selected by the Independent Disciplinary Committee Chairman, Mike Hamlin.
b) The EPCR Disciplinary Officer brings the case against the player.
c) If the decision is upheld, the Disciplinary Committee or the Judiciary will decide on the appropriate sanction. In accordance with the World Rugby penalty scale to be observed by the EPCR, the Correctional Officer first assesses the seriousness of the player’s action and determines which of three entry points (low grade, medium grade, higher grade) it corresponds to.
d) The Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer will determine the appropriate entry point after evaluating several aspects of the player’s gesture, namely whether or not the gesture was intentional, whether or not it resulted in an injury, and whether or not it affected the game.
e) After determining the point of entry, the Disciplinary Committee or the Judicial Officer will decide whether the length of the suspension should be extended from the point of entry to reflect certain aggravating factors such as poor disciplinary record, either as a deterrent and/or to mitigate the ineligibility at the point of entry Reduce circumstances such as the player’s admission of guilt based on a good disciplinary record or the player’s conduct during the hearing and the player’s expression of remorse.
f) A suspension is a systematic ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world. Players are banned on the assumption that a period of one week will generally result in a player missing a game. Suspensions take into account periods of inactivity (e.g. off-season), periods when the player is injured or unable to play, and periods when the player is unavailable or not selected. Suspensions should also consider any off-season games that are not deemed important or that are not close enough to the start of the season to be a determining factor in a player’s future selection.
g) Both parties to the hearing (the EPCR and the player) have the right to appeal the decision made at the independent disciplinary hearing. The party filing an appeal must do so within three (3) business days of receiving written notification of the decision of the Disciplinary Committee or the Judicial Officer.
h) The full decision will be available on epcrugby.com when the disciplinary process is complete.
i) To view the World Rugby penalty schedule for foul play in accordance with Appendix 1 to World Rugby Rule 17 go to world.rugby/organisation/governance/regulations/reg-17/appendix-1