(Reuters) – Otago Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura has been banned for six weeks for kicking an opponent in the face during the New Zealand side’s Super Rugby defeat to the New South Wales Waratahs last week, the league’s Foul Play Review Committee said on Friday.
The Waratahs’ 41-12 victory was the first by an Australian side against New Zealand opposition for 41 matches and Nabura’s dismissal for his airborne assault on winger Cam Clark in the 19th minute proved decisive at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.
“The player’s action was seen by the committee as a misguided effort by an inexperienced player to both try and regain balance whilst in the air and ward off the approaching opposing player,“ the panel’s chairman Nigel Hampton QC said in a statement.
The committee, which also included John Langford and Stefan Terblanche, said Nabura’s actions after he had jumped to catch a high ball merited a top-end entry point of 12 weeks due to the 25-year-old making contact with an opponent’s head.
However, they added that several factors had led them to reduce Nabura’s overall punishment.
“Taking into account mitigating factors including the player’s excellent record, his remorse, his inexperience and his guilty plea at the first available opportunity, the committee reduced the suspension by 50 percent to a sanction of six weeks,” the statement added.
Nabura will be ineligible until July 6.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)