During Bristol's defeat against Connacht (27-10) in the group stage of the Champions Cup, the second row of the Bristol Bears, Josh Caulfield, received a red card after violently stomping on the face of the 'Irish Finlay Bealham. The video of the action then made the rounds on social networks. “How can they say it’s foul play that’s not worth a red card? If it's not unfair but accidental, then just let it play. (...) Otherwise, it must be a red card. Fortunately I retired,” said former international referee Nigel Owens.
To everyone's surprise, an independent commission initially canceled this red card. But the EPCR decided to appeal this decision. And the new disciplinary hearing took place on Wednesday, chaired by Katherine Mackie (Scotland) and assisted by Mirian Tavzarashvili (Georgia) and Valeriu Toma (Romania). In the end, the Bristol player received a - lenient - four-week suspension.
The EPCR said in a statement: “The Commission has determined that Caulfield committed an act of foul play in breach of Rule 9.12 and that the red card was deserved. The Commission then determined that the offense fell within the medium level of World Rugby's penalty scale. She selected an entry point of six weeks.”
And to conclude: “Taking into account the player's good disciplinary record, his on-field apologies to Finlay Bealham and his excellent conduct during the hearing, the Commission decided to reduce the sanction by two weeks, before impose a four-week suspension on the player.”