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Independent disciplinary update: Sam Cane (New Zealand)

New Zealand's Sam Cane has been suspended for three matches (reduced to two matches subject to completion of the Coaching Intervention Programme) following an independent Disciplinary Committee hearing on 6 November.

New Zealand’s Sam Cane appeared (remotely) before an independent Disciplinary Committee on Monday 6 November, having received a red card for an offence contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackling) following a review by the Foul Play Review Official, in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup 2023 final match against South Africa in Paris on Saturday, 28 October, 2023

The independent Disciplinary Committee was chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia), joined by former international player Becky Essex (England) and former international referee Donal Courtney (Ireland).

The player 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:

  1. A reckless act of foul play had occurred in breach of Law 9.13 (dangerous upright tackling);
  2. Head contact had occurred;
  3. The degree of danger was high as there was direct and forceful contact with the player’s shoulder to the head of the ball carrier and;
  4. When applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process there was no mitigation available to bring the degree of danger below the red card threshold.

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 exemplary disciplinary record, his early acknowledgment of foul play and his clear remorse, the independent Committee determined mitigation of three matches was appropriate, resulting in a final sanction of three matches to be applied as follows:

  • Suntory v Toshiba – 18 November
  • Panasonic v Suntory – 25 November
  • Suntory v D-Rocks – 2 December*

*The player intends to apply to take part in the World Rugby Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of the sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play subject to successful completion. Further information can be found here.

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

Visit World Rugby’s dedicated disciplinary process education and information page, which includes a video on how rugby's disciplinary process works. 


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