Cape Town - Waratahs hooker Silatolu Latu has been banned for one week for striking an opponent during Friday's Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
The SANZAAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Latu for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Latu has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including Saturday 12 March 2016.
The incident occurred in the 57th minute of the match between the Brumbies and Waratahs at GIO Stadium in Canberra on 4 March 2016.
SANZAAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.
In his finding, Mr Stelzner ruled the following:
"After initially reviewing the video footage, Citing Commissioner's report, player's statements and medical report, I heard from the player and his representatives, including his counsel Anthony Black SC. The player accepted a breach of the striking law.
"I considered the incident and the submissions made by counsel and formed the view that the offending was at the low end as the footage only shows the player throwing a single punch in to a pack of players. I found the striking offence to have an entry point in the low end range which starts at a two-week suspension.
"I did not consider there to be any aggravating factors to take into account as the player's record with a suspension for a lifting tackle did not give him the status of a repeat offender of the Laws of the Game. I did take the player admitting guilt for the offence into account as a mitigating factor as well as his show of remorse for the offending. This entitles the player up to a 50 per cent reduction in sanction which I applied. This results in a one week suspension being imposed on the player.
"I considered the player's upcoming schedule which included a bye this coming weekend for the Waratahs in the Super Rugby competition. Evidence was submitted to me by the Waratahs that Latu and other players who needed game time would be made available and scheduled to play on the weekend of 12 March in the for their clubs in Sydney.
"I was officially advised in the hearing and again in written form that if Latu was available, he would play in this match as he needs the match practice. Under SANZAAR Judicial Rules and Regulation 17, all matches are equal and if a player is scheduled to play, then the match should be included in the suspension if it has meaningful consequence to the player.
"I considered from the evidence given to me by the Waratahs that this match was meaningful to the player and that other players would also be scheduled to play during this bye week.
"The player is accordingly found to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) and is suspended for one week up to and including Saturday 12 March 2016."