SUOMEN RUGBYLIITTO        

FINNISH RUGBY FEDERATION                

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Member of Rugby Europe

Member of Finnish Olympic Committee (NOC)

DISCIPLINARY PANEL REPORT

Match:  Helsinki Rugby Club - Eagles Rugby Club (“Swans”)

Competition: SM-Liiga, Women

Date: 12.8.2017

Player/club: Johanna Eirola, Eagles Rugby Club (“The Player”)

Reason for hearing

The Player was issued a red card by the Referee on the advice of the Assistant Referee contrary to law 10.4 (c) Kicking.

Panel composition

Palemia Field, Chris Gibbons, George Mossford

Evidence submitted

Written statements from the Referee (Aleksi Eskolin), the Assistant Referee (Heidi Halttunen), Eagles Rugby Club (Jessi Mäenpää, for Eagles RC) & Helsinki Rugby Club (Lilli Brännare, the victim player).  Fanseat Go footage of the game was accessed by the panel.

Referee's report: "Turku nr 15 was chasing a Helsinki nr 11 (Lilli Brännäre) to the in-goal after breakthrough. When Helsinki nr 11 dropped down to ground the ball she did not lower her speed even though the try was already pretty clear. She (Turku 15) collided visibly with speed into the player grounding the ball. I awarded the try and after that was indicated bu [sic] the AR (Heidi Halttunen) that Turku 15 had made the contact into the grounding players head with lower leg / knee with running speed. My assertion is that it was not intentional and was due to the chasing players bad assesment of her speed considering she would have not been able to prevent the try from being scored. After indication of a kick to the head from the AR I had no other options than to give a red card to the infringing player."

Assistant Referee’s report: “As HRC was attacking their player number 11, Lilli Brännare, managed to break through the Turku Swans defence line and was through to the try line. She was chased by Turku player number 15, Johanna Eirola, who was about 2-3 metres behind Ms Brännare. As Ms Brännare reached the try area, she dived to the ground to score a try. While Ms Brännare was lying on the ground, Ms Eirola ran past her with Ms Eirola's foot hitting Ms Brännare in the head.

Eagles statement: "We do understand that when there is a hit in the head, there should be consequences. But in our defence, our player mrs Eirola has assured us, that the whole incident was a unfotunate [sic] accident. She was chasing the HRC player with full speed, and executed the tackle her at the same time the HRC player went down to place a try. The body part that hit the HRC player was mrs Eirola's knee, which in my opinion also states that the "kick" was an innocent accident. Mrs Eirola also told this to the referee right after the incident and also apologised for the happened. Mrs Eirola is very sorry for the accident, and takes full responsibility.

The game was filmed by HRC, so there should be video material available.

We sincerely hope that the HRC player will make full recovery fast and this unfortunate accident doesn't affect to her upcoming games.

Helsinki statement: “I was scoring a try by sliding to the try area and the ball was beneath my hands and chest. The contact happened clearly after scoring, not sure how many seconds after, but not at the moment of scoring. I think that the player wasn't able to slow down her speed but I recall that the player was not holding me at the moment of scoring. So the contact to the head came after the score.

Our physiotherapist was there after the incident and she told me not to play anymore in the game so I went off. As a result of the contact, I've got a bump on the back of my head but luckily I haven't had any concussion symptoms after the incident.

The player apologized right after the incident and again during the hand shakes after the game

Analysis

The disciplinary panel discussed that all statements concur that contact was made with the lower leg of The Player with the head of an opposition player.  The panel recognises the differences in the statements of the Referee and AR, however, the Referee concurs with the AR and sent off the player under Law 10.4 (c).

Therefore the panel upholds The Player’s sending off.  

The Panel also recognises that on the balance of probabilities, The Player was not taking the action with intent or being reckless.  This is based in that there is no swinging in frustration, nor actions to intimidate the victim player or an attempt to jump over the player. It would appear that The Player found herself closer than she expected.

Outcome

The disciplinary panel considers that The Player is guilty of a low range offence under 10.4 (c). In Finland, the low-end entry point for this offense is a two-week suspension, midrange is three weeks, and high-end is four+ weeks (to a ceiling of 52 weeks).

The Player had received a yellow card in an earlier game against Tampere Rugby Club for Dangerous Tackling.  Given that the yellow card was in the club’s immediately preceding game, this is assessed as an aggravating factor of one week.  

In mitigation, The Player had no intent to cause harm to the opposition player whilst running back in defence of her tryline, she attended to the potentially injured player without delay and has also apologised profusely.  The panel therefore recognises a mitigating factor of one week.  

After considering the evidence submitted, the panel concluded that a two week suspension is to be issued.  This is to run against the current schedule which indicates The Player’s club next two games are Helsinki RC (26.8) and Jyväskylä (2.9).  

Therefore, The Player is rendered ineligible for selection for any club in any competition until 2 September 2017.

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