Higginbotham and McMeniman given one week suspensions

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SANZAR     08 Jul 2014     Getty Images

According to the SANZAR Judicial Rules, Higginbotham was required to face a hearing after being shown a third yellow card in the 2014 Super Rugby season.

A player who has received three yellow cards (whether on or off field, or any combination thereof) arising from matches in the same Super Rugby competition shall be required to appear before the Duty Judicial Officer appointed for the match during which he last offended.

At the same time as notification of the details of his hearing pursuant to Rule 4.1, the player shall be sent copies of the match officials' reports in relation to each incident and be advised that the purpose of the hearing before the Duty Judicial Officer is to consider the circumstances in which each yellow card was imposed and determine whether any further penalty should be imposed on him by reason of his persistent foul play.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC heard the case and ruled the following:

Scott Higginbotham received yellow cards in Round 9 (professional foul), in Round 14 (a late charge of the kicker) and in Round 18 (lifting tackle).

The final incident was regarded as more serious and for that reason, and the fact that the player had been sitting on two yellow cards and knew a judicial process would follow, a one-week suspension was imposed.

These incidents are an indication of persistent offending which after scrutiny warrant further sanction. The yellow card breaches did not result in any judicial scrutiny.

Higginbotham was appointed captain of the Rebels and is the most experienced player in the team, held in very high regard by his coach and management. He has endeavoured to lead this team by example, but has played with a degree of intensity which has overreached in his accumulation of three yellow cards.

The player has also previously received a three-week disciplinary sanction while playing at at international level in 2012.

The DJO concluded that Rule 6.1 is not prescriptive of further sanction, but for three acts of foul play including a professional foul, a sanction will usually follow unless review of each carding militates against suspension and/or the playing round is such as to warrant a caution only.

Meanwhile the SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC has accepted a guilty plea from Hugh McMeniman of the Force for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or Striking, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

McMeniman has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 12 July 2014.

The incident occurred in the 29th minute of the match between the Force and Reds at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday 5 July 2014.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case.

The video footage demonstrates that Hugh McMeniman dropped his knee into the side of Ben Lucas, with no great force, and while initially contesting a deliberate strike, the Duty Judicial Officer (DJO) process does not allow a defence as such.

Lucas’ condition was not finally assessed according to the medical report available but the player directly indicated to McMeniman that no serious injury had been sustained.

On the basis that this was a deliberate application of the knee, it was indicated to the player that a one-week suspension would be imposed if the breach was admitted and he accepted that penalty.

While the entry point for striking with the knee is three weeks, the DJO considered that this was no more serious than another lower end striking sanction which carries a two-week entry point.

Together, with McMeniman’s outstanding disciplinary record over nine years, this warranted a discount to one week.

The player was suspended up to and including Saturday 12 July 2014.