La Rochelle centre Levani Botia has been suspended for four weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing by video conference today (Wednesday 2 June) arising from the Champions final against Toulouse at Twickenham Stadium.
The decision means that Botia will miss La Rochelle's final league game of the season this weekend. He will also be unavailable for their first playoff game, possibly the semi-final or barrage. Botia will be available for the final of the TOP14 provided that La Rochelle don't finish in the top two and qualify through winning a barrage playoff and a semi-final without his services. If they claim an automatic semi-final by finishing the regular season in the top two, his suspension would rule him out of the final. He has already served one week of his banning missing La Rochelle's clash with Pau last weekend.
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Botia was sent off by the referee, Luke Pearce (England), in the 28th minute of the match for tackling the Toulouse full-back, Maxime Médard, in a dangerous manner in contravention of Law 9.13. A player must not tackle an opponent dangerously.
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Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.13 relating to dangerous tackling carries the following sanction entry points - Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-range: 6 weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.
Botia An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Philippe Cavalieros (France), Chair, Leon Lloyd (England) and Frank Hadden (Scotland), considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence and submissions from the player, who accepted the red card decision, from the player’s legal representative, Christian Chevalier, from the La Rochelle Chief Executive, Pierre Venayre, from the La Rochelle legal counsel, Yves-Marie Fève, from the La Rochelle Sporting Director, Robert Mohr, from Philippe Rouch, Professor of Biomechanics, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
The Committee upheld the red card decision, finding that Botia had made contact with Médard’s head in a dangerous manner. It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected six weeks as the appropriate entry point.
Taking into account the player’s guilty plea and timely expression of remorse, as well as his prior disciplinary record, the Committee reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension which will conclude once La Rochelle’s TOP 14 fixture schedule is decided.
Both Botia and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.