RWC23: Tongan No 8 Vaea Fifita slapped with ban following red card against Scotland

Back-rower will miss remainder of World Cup plus two club games for Scarlets post tournament

Tonga's Vaea Fifita was sent off against Scotland on Sunday night. Image: Craig Watson
Tonga's Vaea Fifita was sent off against Scotland on Sunday night. Image: Craig Watson

TONGA No 8 Vaea Fifita has been suspended for four matches following his red-carding for a ‘dangerous charge into a ruck or maul’ during the closing stages of Sunday’s World Cup Pool B defeat to Scotland.

Fifita was yellow carded at the time with the incident referred by referee  a review by referee Karl Dickson to the game’s Foul Play Review Official – aka ‘Bunker’ – who updated the decision to a red-card.

The player appeared in front of an independent Disciplinary Committee – consisting of Chair Brenda Heather-Latu (Samoa), joined by former international players Leon Lloyd (England) and Mike Mika (Samoa) – and accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but challenged the Foul Play Review Official’s decision that the act warranted a red card.

Having considered all the available evidence, including the application of World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, the submissions by the player and his representatives, and all available camera angles and technology, the independent Committee determined that:

  • A reckless act of foul play had occurred;
  • Head contact had occurred;
  • The degree of danger was high;
  • The act [or action] was always illegal and therefore mitigation was not available.

On that basis and in considering the sanction, the independent Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in head contact (six matches). Taking all considerations into account, including the player’s remorse and previous disciplinary record, the independent Committee determined mitigation of two matches was appropriate, resulting in a final sanction of four matches.

The matches he is listed as missing are South Africa v Tonga on 1st October, Tonga v Romania on 8th October, Bulls v Scarlets on 22nd October and, strangely given that he doesn’t play for either of these teams, Stormers v Cardiff on 28th October.

The player has the right of appeal within 48 hours of the issuing of the full written decision, which will appear here once published.

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About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Presumably noone, including WR canexplain why Fifita has copped 4 matches (which seems abour right) whereas their winger has escaped sanction for what i thought was a worse incident. Particularly given that it may well end our captain’s tournament?

    • It’s interesting that Fifita has been banned for four weeks and the Namibian Deysel five weeks whereas the norm for players from the leading rugby nations is three weeks. Even serial offenders like Farrell only get four weeks (and that only after he is initially cleared!).

  2. Hopefully SA win by 37+ points as that seems to push the permutations slightly more into our favour for the Ireland game.

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