Cape Town - Schalk Brits' appeal against his red card ban has failed and the Bulls' hooker has been banned for four Super Rugby matches.
This follows a SANZAAR Judicial Committee hearing which on Tuesday found Brits guilty of contravening Law 9.12: A player must not physically abuse anyone.
Brits, who was issued with a red card during the Super Rugby match against the Sharks in Durban last Saturday, has subsequently been suspended for four matches, up to an including May 4, 2019.
The SANZAAR Judicial hearing held via video conference on Tuesday was heard by Helen Morgan, David Croft and former Springbok prop Lawrence Sephaka.
In her finding, Morgan, the Judicial Committee chairperson, ruled the following:
"Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including from the player and submissions from his legal representative, Gert van der Merwe, the Judicial Committee upheld the red card under Law 9.12.
"With respect to sanction the Judicial Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level. The evidence demonstrated the player contacted the opposing player's head with more than one punch. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the player's demonstrated remorse, extensive experience, the fact the player’s actions were in self-defence and the player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the Judicial Committee reduced the suspension by 2 weeks. The Judicial Committee was conscious of the fact that the player was not the instigator of the incident, but due to the player's previous two periods of suspension for striking offences, the Judicial Committee were unable to provide the full 50% discount for the sanction. This leads to a sanction of 4 weeks."
"The player is therefore suspended from all forms of the game for 4 weeks, up to and including May 4, 2019.”
Brits' four-match ban is actually a five-week ban as the Bulls enjoy a bye over the Easter weekend.
Brits will miss home matches against the Jaguares (Saturday, April 6) and Reds (Saturday, April 13), away to the Stormers (Saturday, April 27) and home to the Waratahs (Saturday, May 4).
Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe, who was the instigator in the incident, only received a three match ban for starting the fist fight.