Ireland blow as Aki gets 3-week ban, World Cup over

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

Tokyo - Ireland's Rugby World Cup hopes took a knock on Monday as centre Bundee Aki was given a three-match ban for a high tackle, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

A judicial panel rejected Aki's attempt to overturn his red card after his shoulder crashed into the head of Samoa fly-half Ulupano Seuteni during Ireland's 47-5 win on Saturday.

The decision was announced ahead of Ireland's quarter-final on Saturday against New Zealand, who are going for their third straight World Cup title.

Aki, 29, will miss the World Cup quarter-final, semis and final, if Ireland go that far, or the next club matches with his Irish club, Connacht.

The Irish Rugby Football Union responded with a brief statement.

"The Ireland Management are disappointed with the outcome of Bundee's hearing and will review the Judicial Committee's written report once received," the IRFU said

Aki becomes the latest in a series of players to be disciplined at the World Cup for high tackles, the subject of a crackdown by referees after they were linked to concussions.

Aki, who has Samoan roots, had received support from the Samoa team which urged the judicial panel to "see some sense" and spare him a ban.

"I've known Bundee for a long time and know what a great man he is. He's got a great character and he doesn't go out there to do that to anybody," Samoa coach Steve Jackson said.

"Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and hopefully he gets to continue on in this tournament."

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