Uruguay hooker Facundo Gattas attended a disciplinary hearing on 1 October having received a red card from referee Wayne Barnes for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous high tackle) in Uruguay’s Rugby World Cup 2019 match against Georgia on 29 September.
The independent Judicial Committee was chaired by Jean-Noel Couraud (France), joined by former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former international referee Jose Luis Rolandi (Argentina).
The player sought to overturn the red card. Having considered all the angles of the incident, together with evidence from the player and his representatives, the panel upheld the decision of the referee.
The committee considered the High Tackle Sanction Framework and decided the following:
- The Judicial Committee did not accept that it was a passive tackle. For the committee, the action was more akin to a dominant tackle with a high degree of danger
- There was a direct contact of the player’s left shoulder to the ball carrier’s head
- There was no evidence that there is a significant change of direction from the ball carrier‘s running line until after the contact
- The player was in an open space and has a clear line of sight before the contact
- There are no mitigating factors
Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, the panel did not find that the referee’s decision was wrong and the red card was therefore upheld.
Given the above outcomes, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point, which was introduced in 2017 to protect player welfare, deter high contact and prevent head injuries. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.
Taking into account the mitigating factors that are considered in relation to sanction, including the player’s clean disciplinary record, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks, which equates to three matches in the context of Rugby World Cup 2019.
Gattas will miss Uruguay’s two remaining pool matches (against Australia on 5 October and Wales on 13 October) and the quarter-final at Rugby World Cup 2019 or should Uruguay not qualify for the quarter-final, the player’s next club match in his domestic competition. Therefore the player is free to play again on 21 October, 2019.