Some justice for Zas in Foley incident

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Normally South African Super Rugby teams enter Sanzaar disciplinary hearings with trepidation, as local players often receive the worst possible sanctions compared to those from Down Under for similar incidents.

But this time around, the Stormers emerged with a reasonable outcome as Zas was suspended for two weeks by Sanzaar on Monday morning. More importantly, though, Zas will sit out just one Super Rugby match…

The Stormers somehow managed to convince Sanzaar that Zas would’ve played for Western Province in this weekend’s match against the Sharks XV in Durban!

With the Stormers on a bye, Zas would surely have sat out the Province game as he has started in seven out of the nine Super Rugby games this season, and came on as a substitute in two other fixtures.

But Sanzaar duty judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC of New Zealand said in a statement on Monday that the Stormers legal team provided “written evidence that the player (Zas) would have been chosen to play for Western Province in a Currie Cup match against the Natal Sharks that forthcoming weekend.

“So that match should be, and is, taken into account as a match which he will be unable to play in. In addition, he will be ineligible to play in the Super Rugby match against the Sunwolves.”

The 20-year-old Zas pleaded guilty to contravening Law 10.4 (i), which reads: “Tackling, tapping, pushing or pulling an opponent jumping for the ball in a lineout or in open play.”

So Zas will miss the WP game, as well as the Stormers’ next match against the Sunwolves in Singapore on May 14.

Accepting the charge most definitely worked in Zas’ favour, and as Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said after the 32-30 defeat to the Waratahs, the fact that Zas slipped as he tried to go up to contest the high ball with Foley was a mitigating factor.

The left wing was somewhat unfortunate to be red-carded – with captain Juan de Jongh saying that Zas was “a little bit unlucky” – and it arguably cost the Stormers the game in the end. But at least he hasn’t been slapped with a lengthy ban.

“I found it was a lower end offence on the basis that the video footage showed the player’s right foot slipping as he was readying to compete for the ball in the air,” Hampton said.

“This resulted in him moving on through and under the opposing player, causing that player to fall dangerously to the ground. Fortunately, the opposing player was uninjured. The low end entry point for the sanction was a three-week suspension.

“There were no aggravating factors. As to mitigation, I took into account the player’s youth and his early guilty plea, as well as his already expressed apology and his contrition. I allowed a reduction of one week, making a suspension from all rugby of two weeks, up to and including Saturday 14 May 2016.”

But now Fleck will be stretched to find a replacement for Zas against the Sunwolves, as Dillyn Leyds is out for the season with a knee injury.

The coach will probably opt for Johnny Kotze, who missed out on the match-23 at the weekend, as a solution as he played at wing for the Stormers last season, while utility back Huw Jones was among the replacements against the Tahs and could also move up to the starting team.

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@IndyCapeSport - Independent Media

Original source: Some justice for Zas in Foley incident

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