Johnston suspended for eight weeks
June 12, 2005

Manu Samoa's Cencus Johnston has been suspended for eight weeks following an incident in their defeat to Australia at the Telstra Stadium on Saturday.

Following the match, the Citing Commissioner cited Johnston for a breach of Law 10.4 (e), dangerous tackling and 10.4 (g), dangerous charging.

Johnston appeared this morning before an IRB Judicial Committee and was represented by the Samoan Team Manager.

The player acknowledged a breach but emphasised he had no malicious intent in his actions and that the Australian player, Morgan Turinui had suffered no injury.

The IRB Judicial Committee concluded the player's actions could not be categorised as a tackle, but instead constituted a dangerous charge with a shoulder. The player's action involved driving upward with the shoulder, with no use of the arms and making contact with the ball carrier at the shoulder/neck region, and the risk of injury was high.

The IRB Regulations direct Judicial Committees to categorise foul play, to set entry levels for penalties. For dangerous charging of the ball carrier in the middle range, the entry level is three months suspension.

Mitigating circumstances included the fact this was the player's first Test, a long and unblemished record, his contrition and his acceptance of breach.

In the circumstances, the Committee decided to reduce the entry-level penalty to eight weeks and the player is suspended from all forms of Rugby up to and including Sunday 7 August 2005.

The Committee noted the seriousness of this type of breach carrying significant risk and that is was fortunate no injury was sustained. It is not a matter of faulty technique in the tackle, but a clearly illegal use of the shoulder, with considerable force and the IRB Regulations are directed to sanctions that reflect that.

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