World Rugby has slapped Wallabies back-rower Rob Valetini with a three-match suspension for his dangerous tackle on Welsh lock Adam Beard.
But it could have been much worse, with one of the independent disciplinary panel members deeming the offence worthy of a ban of 10-plus matches.
Valetini was sent off just 15 minutes into Australia’s tour-ending 29-28 loss at Principality Stadium last Saturday after crashing head-to-head into Beard, who failed his subsequent HIA and played no further part in the Test.
Valetini appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link and accepted the red card was warranted.
The independent disciplinary committee was chaired by England’s Mike Hamlin, with former Irish international Mike Ross and ex-Scotland coach Frank Hadden assisting.
The trio considered all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative.
Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that the offending was reckless and that he ran at speed in an upright position in an attempt to tackle Beard, but exhibited poor technique, resulting in his head striking the right side of Beard’s head.
Beard needed 20 stitches in the area of his eyebrow.
The committee determined Valetini’s punishment merited a minimum mid-range entry point of six weeks, with one member believing he should have been suspended for at least 10 matches.
On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.
Valetini, though, was entitled to a 50 per cent reduction from the entry point and, after accepting there were no aggravating factors, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks.
The No.8 will miss the Brumbies’ Super Rugby Pacific trial matches against the NSW Waratahs on January 29 and the Brumbies’ development team the following week plus their competition opener against Moana Pasifika on February 18.
But Valetini can opt to complete a Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention course to have his ban reduced to two matches.
That avenue is available to offending players in the hope of modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.
Valetini also has 48 hours to appeal his suspension.