Chiefs prop Reuben O’Niell cops ban for ‘physical abuse’

Robin O'Neill, head of department heads, was found guilty and charged with “physical assault” by the Sanzaar judiciary, which resulted in him being suspended for three weeks.

O'Neill held a Rebels player high with his swinging arm during a 61st-minute clean-up against Melbourne, which was deemed to have met the red card threshold.

This charge was imposed by the Commission under Law 9.12, which states that “a player shall not physically assault any person” for the violation.

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Committee Chair Helen Morgan said:

“After conducting a detailed review of all available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including reports submitted by the player and the player’s representative, Aaron Lloyd, the Judicial Committee upheld the citation and found that the player had violated Law 9.12.”

“The Judicial Committee evaluated the actions as being reckless actions by the player by hitting the opponent’s head with his arm.”

O'Neill's early guilty plea, mitigating factors and good disciplinary record saw the suspension halved from six to three weeks, meaning the Taranaki prop should be available for the second week of the qualifiers if the Chiefs are still alive.

His absence will be felt when the Chiefs face the two strongest teams in the competition, the Hurricanes and Blues, during the final two weeks of the regular season.


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