Munster star Arno Botha has been handed a three-week suspension, after striking with the leading arm late on in their win over Saracens on Saturday.
The South African received his marching orders with a straight red card from referee Romain Poite for the incident involving Sarries' Nick Tompkins.
Munster won the game 10-3 after Peter O'Mahony's first-half try, while they take on the same opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup this coming Saturday at Allianz Park in a reverse fixture.
The suspension follows an independent Disciplinary Hearing in London today, at which Botha was up for an infringement of Law 9.12 of World Rugby's guidelines on foul play - those relating to striking with the arm.
This carries a sanction entry point of two weeks at the low end, six weeks in the mid-range and 10 to 52 weeks at the top end of the scale.
The committee in London comprised of chair Dan White (England), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Marcello d’Orey (Portugal). The panel reviewed imagery of the incident, and heard evidence and video conference submissions from Botha himself.
Others the panel spoke to included Munster Rugby's legal representative, Pat Barriscale, Munster Rugby Team Manager, Niall O'Donovan, and from the EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 11, 2019
The Committee upheld the red card decision from the French official, deciding the incident was indeed "reckless."
According to World Rugby's regulations, contact to the head or neck carries a minimum mandatory mid-range sanction, and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.
However, it was adjudged there were no aggravating factors, and taking into account the player’s guilty plea and timely expression of remorse, the Committee reduced the sanction by the maximum of 50% before imposing the three-week suspension.
Botha will be free to play on Monday, 30th December 2019, and both he and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.
The suspension means the 28-year-old flanker, who made his debut for Johann Van Graan's side in September 2018, will miss upcoming fixtures against Saracens in the Champions Cup this weekend, as well as Guinness PRO 14 ties against Connacht and Leinster.
The other Pool Four match on Saturday ended in a 40-19 win for Racing 92 over Ospreys.
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