Itoje avoids ban for high tackle as citing complaint dismissed

Daily News
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Itoje avoids ban for high tackle as citing complaint dismissed

Maro Itoje will remain available at a key stage of the Premiership season after the Saracens second row saw his citing for a dangerous tackle against Bath on Friday dismissed. 

Itoje was in danger of being ruled out for an offence that carries a minimum two-match ban, but an independent disciplinary panel revealed rear replays of the incident showed initial contact in the tackle was not with the head.

The England forward made an upright tackle on Bath’s Alfie Barbeary at the Recreation Ground, but was deemed not to have committed a red card offence, and so will not serve a suspension.

Itoje was sent to the sin-bin during the game with referee Luke Pearce viewing the fact it was not direct head-on-head contact as mitigation for not showing a red card, but the citing officer saw differently. In any case, the disciplinary panel ultimately agreed with Pearce.

Saracens have two games of the regular season left – against Bristol and Sale – and are on course to finish in the play-offs as they look to retain their Premiership title.

“Itoje was cited for dangerous tackling, contrary to World Rugby Law 9.13, during a game against Bath Rugby on 26 April 2024. The incident occurred in the 29th minute of the first half. The citing was dismissed by the panel and Itoje is free to play with immediate effect,” an RFU statement read.

Panel chair, Philip Evans KC, said: “The panel heard and considered evidence from Maro Itoje and the Bath player and were able to examine the footage of the incident many times and from many different angles.

“In particular, the panel watched the footage from the rear view of Itoje which, when considered alongside the rest of the footage, demonstrated it was more likely than not that contact was not initially with the head or simultaneously with the head and the body.

“Instead, contact with the head appears to come later and can properly be described as more glancing than direct in nature.

“In all of the circumstances, the panel did not conclude that a high degree of danger was created and therefore the on-field decision stands. The player is free to play with immediate effect.”

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