After a storm of protest erupted on Twitter as Highlanders flanker James Haskell was handed an overly-lenient ban for punching, SANZAR Judicial Officer Mike Heron has amended his sentence and increased the three-week suspension by a week.
Haskell was yellow-carded during the first half of his side’s win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein two weeks ago, despite a clear indication from the assistant referee that the two punches aimed at local flank Justin Downey warranted a red card. Heron duly agreed with this view during the citing process, ruling that the punches had indeed warranted a red card. The decision to reduce a 5 or 6 week ban down to three, though, was based, in part, on a supposedly clean record on Haskell’s part (along with the usual mitigating factors of contrition and an early guilty plea).
A number of our readers, though, helped in pointing out that Haskell’s record was anything but clean, though, with a 1-week suspension on 2008 for a head-butt in an English club game, in particular, overlooked by SANZAR. Sharksworld duly brought the matter to the attention of SANZAR CEO Greg Peters (through the expedient of spamming him relentlessly on Twitter until he replied!), who conceded that Heron did appear to have overlooked Haskell’s prior indiscretions.
To their credit, though, SANZAR have acted to correct this error in adding an additional week to the penalty. In the words of the Heron, “because Haskell had a previous disciplinary matter, I find I am not able to give him the maximum discount as previously allowed. The comments regarding the impressive record are modified to that extent only. The discount for his guilty plea, remorse and the record as now corrected, is a period of two weeks. The final penalty is a suspension of four weeks, which is the period to and including Saturday 26 May 2012 (four scheduled Super Rugby matches).”
In firing a warning to the management of Super Rugby teams, though, Mr Heron added, “It is vital for the proper functioning of this disciplinary system, that players and their support personnel provide accurate and complete information to the Judicial Officer. In this case I accept it was an oversight. I note for completeness that a deliberate failure to provide accurate and complete information on material matters such as previous disciplinary record, could amount to Misconduct under the SANZAR Code of Conduct.”Tweet