Pole suspended for one match

(Rugby News Service) Tuesday 18 September 2007
 Pole suspended for one match
Suspended: Hale T Pole of Tonga in action against USA

PARIS, 18 September – At a Rugby World Cup Judicial Hearing before the Judicial Officer (JO) Terry Willis, Hale T Pole of Tonga pleaded guilty to a breach of Law 10.4(a) during the match between Tonga and Samoa in Montpellier on 16 September.

The player pleaded guilty to striking Samoan player Leo Lafaiali'I. In his defence Pole denied using his elbow into the head of Lafaiali'I but admitted that he recklessly used his arm at the breakdown with the first point of contact being his elbow on to the Samoan player's shoulder. The JO accepted this submission but found that the player's forearm then struck Lafaiali'I's face and that the referee was correct in sending the player from the field of play.

The JO determined the offence to be at the low-end range of seriousness. There were no aggravating circumstances. However, there were several mitigating factors including Pole's remorse in relation to the incident, his excellent conduct during the hearing and the fact that he had played 10 years of senior football including 10 games for Tonga, 22 games for The Highlanders in the Super 12/14 competition and over 80 games for Otago and Southland in the New Zealand NPC competition without coming before a disciplinary committee for foul play.

The entry point for a low range offence is two matches, however, the JO decided in this case the suspension should be one match in light of his plea of guilty and the other mitigating factors.

The player has 48 hours in which to appeal the decision.

RNS dk/gs