Andre Estherhuizen Suspended For Four Weeks

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC has accepted a guilty plea from Andre Esterhuizen of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.  Esterhuizen has been suspended from all forms of the game for four weeks up to and including Sunday 19 July 2015.  The incident occurred in the 10th minute of the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Stormers at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on 13 June 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC assessed the case.  In his finding, Mr Hampton ruled the following:  ‘I initially reviewed the video footage, the Citing Commissioner’s report and the reports from the referee and TMO.  I established that the player, Andre Esterhuizen, accepted he was guilty of the cited offence and I then identified the various factors involved in the incident.  I considered the incident had an entry point in the low end range which starts at a four-week suspension for lifting tackles.  It appeared from the video that the actions of the Sharks’ halfback had some effect on the Stormers’ player as he came to ground on his upper body.  However, Esterhuizen was clearly the major contributor to this dangerous tackle, which he accepted.  I then added two weeks as a deterrent to send a further message that this type of tackle cannot be tolerated in the game due to the risk it poses to players.  There have been a number of decisions relating to lifting tackles this year with a deterrent increase of this size being added.  An increase to this level of deterrent may be required in the future as the additional two-week increase to sanction does not seem to be having the required effect of getting rid of these tackles.  Mitigating factors included the player admitting his guilt for the offence, being contrite for his actions and apologising to the tackled player.  His good disciplinary record and youth were also taken into account.  These mitigating factors entitled the player to a 50 per cent reduction of the four week entry point, so a reduction of two weeks, which resulted in a four-week sanction.  The Sharks’ Super Rugby season is finished for 2015 and as such, the player’s commitments are now to his club, Varsity College Old Boys.  I was provided with written confirmation that the club’s next three matches, in which the player would have played, take place over the next four weeks, plus a compulsory pre-Currie Cup match that the player would have been expected to play in for the Sharks.  The player is accordingly found to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) and is suspended up to and including Sunday 19 July 2015.’