EDINBURGH prop WP Nel will face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow [Wednesday] after being cited for an incident which occurred during Friday night’s European Challenge Cup victory over Pau at the DAM Health Stadium.
It is alleged that Nel struck the head of opposite number Téo Bordenave in a dangerous manner in the 42nd minute of the match in contravention of Law 9.12.
Simon Thomas (Wales), chair, Donal Courtney (Ireland) and Martyn Wood (England) have been appointed as the independent Disciplinary Committee for the hearing which will take place by video conference. The complaint was made by the match Citing Commissioner, Dana Teagarden (Germany).
Law 9.12 states that “a player must not punch or strike with hand, arm, elbow or shoulder”. Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.12 carries a low entry point of a two week suspension, a mid-range entry pointy of six weeks, and a top end 10 to 52 weeks.
Last night Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair admitted he thought that nothing would have come of the incident after TMO Ben Whitehouse decided it did not merit any punitive action. “I didn’t notice it at the time,” Blair said. “I know they’d had a look at it and Ben Whitehouse had passed it off as a rugby incident and we didn’t think anything more than that.
“We checked after the game about the health of the player and he seemed OK at the time. We’ll wait and see. We’re trying to work out the right path at the moment.”
The difficulty for Edinburgh is that players who admit their guilt tend to have their sentences reduced, whereas players who even in all sincerity protest their innocence are not treated so leniently. The bottom line, however, is that Blair would prefer for Nel to be available for every match in the coming months as his team prepare for some of their biggest games of the season.
“Obviously we’ve got some important games coming up which we’d love WP to be available for,” Blair added. “It’s a complicated type of situation the way these things are decided.
“This is a first for me and it’s an interesting process. Really difficult. We’re doing a lot of reviewing of the footage to see where we’re at and we’ll make a decision on it.”
Edinburgh play Bath at home in the Challenge Cup round of 16 on Saturday night. If they win that match, they will have a quarter-final, also at home, against either Biarritz or Wasps. They also have three regular-season games left in the URC and need to pick up some points to ensure they remain in the league’s top eight and thus qualify for the play-offs. They currently lie seventh.