Ulster are weighing up their options after Will Addison was hit with a four-week ban for what was deemed a dangerous tackle in last Friday's European win over Clermont.
The province can appeal the decision which, as it stands, means that the utility back will miss next month's crunch back-to-back Champions Cup clashes with Harlequins and not be available to play again until the week beginning Monday, December 23.
It is believed that no decision regarding an appeal has yet been made by Ulster Rugby, but should they decide to do so, appeals must be lodged within three working days of receiving the full written decision of the independent Disciplinary Committee.
Addison did not accept the citing complaint at yesterday's hearing in London but was handed down a mandatory mid-range sanction after contact made with lock Paul Jedrasiak's head in an attempted tackle was deemed "reckless contact" in contravention of Law 9.13.
After initially being given a six-week ban as an appropriate entry point, Addison's sanction was reduced to four weeks due to his previously clear disciplinary record.
Neither referee JP Doyle or TMO Trevor Fisher felt that there had been any foul play after the Clermont lock was forced to leave the field.
The ban means the Ireland international will not be available to play again until the week of Ulster’s home game with Connacht which takes place on December 27 pending any future appeal which may, or may not, lead to further reduction in sanction.
The judgment rules Addison out of four games. He will miss this Friday’s PRO14 game with the Scarlets, the two European clashes with Harlequins and involvement in the PRO14 trip to Leinster on December 20.
Addison was cited after last Friday’s Champions Cup win over Clermont by Commissioner John Byett for tackling Jedrasiak in what was described as a dangerous manner in contravention of Law 9.13.
The statement issued through European Rugby organisers EPCR stated that: “Addison had made reckless contact with Jedrasiak’s head in attempting the tackle.”
It also said: “An independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Antony Davies (England), Chair, Val Toma (Romania) and Marcello d’Orey (Portugal), heard submissions and evidence from Addison — who did not accept the citing complaint — from the Ulster Rugby Chief Executive, Jonny Petrie, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
“The Committee upheld the citing complaint finding that Addison had made reckless contact with Jedrasiak’s head in attempting the tackle, and as dangerous tackles of this nature carry a mandatory mid-range sanction according to World Rugby’s regulations, six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.”
The statement went on to explain that the sanction had been cut to four weeks due to Addison’s disciplinary record.
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.13 relating to dangerous tackling carries the following sanction entry points: Low End: two weeks; Mid-range: six weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.