Fitzgerald and Bird Suspended

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC has accepted a guilty plea from Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling, after he was cited during a Vodacom Super Rugby match at the weekend.  Fitzgerald has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 27 April 2014.  The incident occurred in the 30th minute of the match between the Chiefs and Crusaders at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday 19 April 2014.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC assessed the case.  In his finding, Mr Lubbe ruled the following:

“The player Michael Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to the charge that he acted in breach of Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling. Fitzgerald accepted the description of the incident in the report filed by the Citing Commissioner that his right arm made contact with the head of his opponent in a dangerous and reckless manner.  I categorised the incident at the low entry level and accepted the submission on behalf of the player that the tackled player (Reid) immediately before impact, bent forward which contributed to the point of impact being high and that there was no direct intent to aim for the head area of Reid. Reid was unfortunately injured and had to leave the field. Fitzgerald is 27 years old and has a clean record.  The player pleaded guilty and accepted the sanction of one week which was reduced from two weeks due to the player’s record and plea.  Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 27 April 2014.”

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC also accepted a guilty plea from Dominic Bird of the Crusaders for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling, after he was cited at the weekend.  Bird has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 27 April 2014.  The incident occurred in the 28th minute of the match between the Chiefs and Crusaders at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday 19 April 2014.

In his finding, Mr Lubbe ruled the following:

“The player Dominic Bird pleaded guilty to the charge that he acted in breach of Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling. Bird accepted the description of the incident in the report filed by the Citing Commissioner that his right shoulder made contact with the head of his opponent in a dangerous and reckless manner.  I categorised the incident at the low entry level and accepted the submissions made by Mr Aaron Lloyd on behalf of the player. Lloyd submitted that the tackled player (Squire) fell forward immediately before impact which was caused by another Crusaders player tackling Squire. This contributed to the point of impact being made high by Bird. It was also submitted that there was no direct intent to aim for the head area of Squire.  Squire was unfortunately injured and had to leave the field. The referee on the field of play awarded the player a yellow card after reviewing the incident with the Television Match Official. Bird is 23 years old and has a clean record.  The player pleaded guilty and accepted the sanction of one week which was reduced from two weeks due to the player’s record and plea.  Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 27 April 2014.”

All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.  For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.