Tonga’s Vaea Fifita attended an independent Disciplinary Committee hearing for an offence contrary to Law 9.20(a) (dangerous charging into a ruck or maul) as a result of a review by the Foul Play Review Official in Tonga’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool B match against Scotland on 24 September.

The independent Disciplinary Committee was chaired by Brenda Heather-Latu (Samoa), joined by former international players Leon Lloyd (England) and Mike Mika (Samoa).

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;
  2. Head contact had occurred;
  3. The degree of danger was high;
  4. The action was always illegal and therefore mitigation was not available.

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 remorse and previous disciplinary record, the independent Committee determined mitigation of two matches was appropriate, resulting in a final sanction of four matches to be applied as follows:

  • South Africa v Tonga – 1 October, 2023
  • Tonga v Romania – 8 October, 2023
  • Bulls v Scarlets – 22 October, 2023
  • Stormers v Scarlets – 28 October, 2023

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.