Flip Van der Merwe suspended

Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks for hitting a Waratahs player.

FILE: Flip van der Merwe. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe has been suspended for three weeks after being found guilty of hitting Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan by a South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby (SANZAR) Judicial hearing.

Van der Merwe was cited following an incident that occurred in the 75th minute of the Super Rugby match against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday 19 April, and will now be out of action until and including Sunday 11 May 2014.

The SANZAR Judicial Hearing held via video conference on Wednesday was heard by Adam Casselden who was assisted by former professional player, Eroni Clarke.

Casselden, with the help of Clarke, ruled that van der Merwe intentionally struck Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan in the incident.

"Having heard the submissions from the player's counsel, Stephan Weyers, receiving evidence from the players, Flip van der Merwe and Paddy Ryan and also reviewing the video footage a number of times along with other evidence, I found on the balance of probabilities that Mr Van der Merwe did strike Mr Ryan's nose with his hand, arm or fist but that no injury was sustained by Mr Ryan by reason of Mr Van der Merwe's action.

Casselden added that the suspension was a fair punishment given the nature of the incident.

"Having considered all the matters that are in Regulation 17.9.2, I was satisfied that a mid level entry point was appropriate, particularly considering the intent of Mr Van der Merwe to strike Mr Ryan and the vulnerable position Mr Ryan was placed in at the base of a collapsed scrum in circumstances where he could not protect himself from Mr Van der Merwe's action."

According to Casselden, the Bulls skipper's strong standing and reputation in the game played a part in significantly reducing the originally stipulated ban.

"A mid level entry point dictates a suspension of five weeks, but due to the player's good character, lengthy professional playing career and his relatively clean disciplinary record, I was satisfied that the five week entry point should be reduced to three weeks."