Member of World Rugby

Member of Rugby Europe

Member of Finnish Olympic Committee (NOC)


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

Competition: SM-Liiga, Women

Date: 26.8.2017

Player/club: Maija Robertson, Eagles Rugby Club (“The Player”)

Reason for hearing

The Player was issued a red card by the Referee contrary to law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling of an Opponent including early or late and including the action known as the “stiff arm tackle”.

Panel composition

Palemia Field, Chris Gibbons, George Mossford

Evidence submitted

Written statements from the Referee (Jaakko Kanniainen), Eagles Rugby Club (Jessi Mäenpää, for Eagles RC) & Helsinki Rugby Club (Ruusu Halttunen, “The Victim Player”).  Video footage of the game was supplied by Eagles via YouTube .

Referee's report: "Helsinki player number 14 had a strong carry towards the tryline about to score when Turku player number 20 (Maija) was getting back to the line from the last breakdown, and tackled her to the head with a swinging forearm. The try was scored as she was already diving, but she took quite a blow, and was forced to leave the match after the incident. I awarded the try, stopped the time immediately, and then asked for Turku player number 20 and the captain to come further form the accident. I said to Maija: "I think you know what's coming." She nodded and replied "yes, sorry". I continued "Contact with the head, dangerous tackle. It's a red card offense". I gave the red card on the spot, and she apologized and clearly understood what the card was for. The player was walking a minute after the hit and wasn't carried off the field."

Eagles statement: "The HRC player sidestepped and changed her running line near our try line, and ms Robertson tried to react to that movement. Her position was unbalanced and her tackle attempt failed badly, because she miscalculated the distance and the speeds in the impact. She ended up accidentally hitting the HRC player to face area with her arm. The bodypart hitting was upper arm (biceps) area.

Ms Robertson takes full responsibility of the incident, and hopes the accident didn't cause any further harm the the HRC player. She also apologized from the player afterwords. Ms Robertson hasn't had any previous cards or issues with laws before.

Helsinki statement: “I ran to the try area and if I recall it correctly, I got a hit to my head by the arm of the opposition player. The player apologized after the incident


The disciplinary panel noted that all statements concur that contact was made with The Player’s arm to the the head of an opposition player.  This is supported by the video evidence which further supports the referee’s statement that it was with force.  Therefore the panel upholds The Player’s sending off.  


The Panel used the World Rugby directive issued in November 2016 with regards to reckless tackles.  The contact made by The Player was directly to the head and at force.  As both players were near vertical, The Player should have known that she had a high likelihood of making contact with her opponent’s head but still did so.  The potential for serious injury is also recognised by the panel in calculating the entry level.  No actions by The Victim Player could mitigate this action.  

The disciplinary panel considers that The Player is guilty of a high range offence under 10.4 (e). In Finland, the high-end entry point is three+ weeks (to a ceiling of 52 weeks).  As the high tackle is under scrutiny by all stakeholders in World Rugby, it is crucial that this panel considers deterrent against bad technique.  We also recognise that The Player has taken full responsibility for her actions in this case.

After considering the evidence submitted, the panel concluded that a four week suspension is to be issued.  This is to run against the current schedule (under the Finnish system one game = one week):

Therefore, The Player is rendered ineligible for selection for any club in any competition until 1 October 2017.  The Player may reduce her ban by one week by delivering a newly completed Laws of the Game[1] certificate before 22.9 to which would enable her to be selected for Finals Day.


 Suomen Rugbyliitto ry, PL 974

FI-00180 Helsinki, Finland 97.491