Six Nations

Ireland's Aki gets 4-game ban for England red card

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Bundee Aki (Getty Images)
Bundee Aki (Getty Images)

Bundee Aki will miss four Connacht matches after the red card he received while playing for Ireland in the Six Nations win over England last weekend.

The match was Ireland's final fixture of the 2021 Six Nations but rugby regulations allow for offences in one competition to lead to bans in other events and at a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday it was decided to impose a four-game domestic suspension on the 30-year-old midfielder.

The centre was sent off for a high tackle on England No. 8 Billy Vunipola in the 64th minute of Saturday's eventual 32-18 victory in Dublin.

That made Aki the first Ireland player to receive two red cards at Test level after he was also sent off for a high tackle during a 2019 World Cup match against Samoa.

Aki will now miss his province's last 16 European Challenge Cup trip to Leicester in a fortnight as well as the province's following three games either in Europe or the Rainbow Cup.

Aki accepted he had committed an act of foul play in tackling Vunipola but the committee agreed that he had meant to carry out a legitimate tackle which a Six Nations statement said was "inches too high".

The statement added the tackle "had been reckless rather than deliberate or intentional".

Aki received a three-week suspension for his World Cup red card following a high tackle on UJ Seuteni and missed the rest of that tournament.

The New Zealand-born midfielder, who has won 31 Test caps for Ireland, was making his first appearance of the 2021 Six Nations in place of the injured Garry Ringrose.

He was the second Ireland player to see red during this Six Nations, with flanker Peter O'Mahony sent off during a defeat by Wales as rugby authorities continue their crackdown on head-high challenges amid heightened awareness of the dangers posed by concussion.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell, speaking after Saturday's match, said: "It's a tough one. The rules are the rules but at the same time Billy seemed to be on a downward motion certainly with his head.

"But if there's any contact, they are very stringent with that at this moment in time.

"He's gutted, Bundee. He's good mates with Billy as well and he was in the tunnel making sure they're still friends, which they definitely are," he added.


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