Will Skinner, the Harlequins flank, who received a red card in strange circumstances last weekend, has appeared before a European Cup hearing and has been suspended for two weeks.
Skinner had been substituted during Harlequins' match with Toulouse when, with a minute to play and Toulouse behind, Harlequins kicked for touch. Maxime Médard was waiting for the ball to take a quick throw in but Skinner played the ball to negate the quick throw-in. The referee, Alain Rolland, sent Skinner from the playing enclosure.
A red-card offence requires a disciplinary hearing, and Skinner's hearing was in Dublin on Thursday afternoon with the independent judicial officer, Pat Barriscale of Ireland presiding. Also present were Skinner, Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, Geraint Ashton-Jones, a club representative, Rolland and Roger O'Connor, the ERC disciplinary officer. The charge was 'an act contrary to good sportsmanship in contravention of Law 10.4 (m)'.
For red-card hearings the onus rests with the player to demonstrate that the referee's decision to issue the red was wrong, and the Judicial Officer found that the player had not demonstrated that, and he accordingly upheld the red card.
Employing the IRB recommended sanctions for acts contrary to good sportsmanship, Barriscale decided that the offence was at the low-end entry point of four (4) weeks. Having taken into account the mitigating factors including the player's excellent record, he decided on the maximum reduction of 50 per cent, and imposed a suspension of two (2) weeks.
Skinner will be free to play on Monday, 2 January 2012. Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.
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