Samoa hooker Motu Matu’u’s appeal against the decision of a Judicial Committee to suspend him for three matches, following his citing for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous high tackle) in Samoa’s Rugby World Cup 2019 match against Russia on 24 September, was heard in Tokyo on 1 October.
The independent Appeal Committee was chaired by Sir James Dingemans (England), joined by Jean-Noel Couraud (France) and former international referee Jose Luis Rolandi (Argentina).
The Appeal Committee dismissed the player’s appeal for the following reasons:
- the Judicial Committee was entitled on the evidence to find that incident met the red card test;
- the player could not have been scheduled to play against Scotland on 30 September, 2019 due to being unavailable for selection because of injury meaning that match was correctly excluded by the Judicial Committee from the sanction;
- if Samoa do not qualify for the quarter-finals the Judicial Committee was correct to carry the suspension forward to the English Premiership because the judicial committee did not find, and could not have found on the materials before them, that Samoa were likely to get into the quarter-finals because the committee’s decision was made after only one pool game.
The suspension remains as imposed by the Judicial Committee. Matu’u will miss Samoa’s final two pool matches and the quarter-final should Samoa progress, or his next scheduled match with his club London Irish on 26 October, 2019. The suspension will therefore end at midnight after the Rugby World Cup 2019 quarter-finals if Samoa qualify or at midnight on 26 October if Samoa do not qualify for the quarter-finals, after which he is free to resume playing.