Japan second-row Yuna Sato appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle) in Japan’s international match against Scotland on 14 November, 2021.  

The independent Disciplinary Committee chaired by Jennifer Donovan (Ireland), joined by former international referee Valeriu Toma (Romania) and former sevens international Rob Vickerman (England), heard the case, considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and her representative.

The player admitted that she had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that the player had recklessly made direct, forceful contact with the head of her opponent.

On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head and determined that the foul play warranted a mid-range entry point. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.

Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the players age and inexperience, her remorse and conduct at the hearing, and accepting that there were no aggravating factors, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):  

Ireland v Japan – 20 November, 2021
Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix v Rissho University – 12 December, 2021
Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix v Yokohama TMK and Others (collaboration team) – 8 January, 2022 (substituted if successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention)

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

The player has the right of appeal within 48 hours of the issuing of the full written decision.

Click here to watch the video that explains how rugby’s disciplinary process works.

Visit World Rugby’s dedicated disciplinary process education and information page here.

World Rugby is managing the communications for all matches in the November test window. Please contact media@worldrugby.org for further information.