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RFU disciplinary hearing verdict: Smith free to play

George Smith of Bristol Bears appeared before an independent disciplinary panel this evening.

He was shown a red card by referee Andrew Jackson in the 47th minute of the match Saracens v Bristol Bears on Saturday 8 September 2018.

This was for an adjudged dangerous tackle on Saracens' Jackson Wray contrary to law 9.13.

Smith contested the charge and it was dismissed by the panel comprising Gareth Graham (chair), with Jamie Corsi and Olly Kohn.

Smith is free to play again immediately.

Panel chair Gareth Graham said: “The independent panel had the benefit of viewing this incident from a number of different angles. The footage did not clearly show whether or not there was direct contact between the Player and the head of Jackson Wray.

"The panel heard evidence from Wray who said that he could not remember whether there was direct contact with his chin; he said that this was a big collision which was well-timed.

"The player explained his actions in detail and assisted the panel by demonstrating how the tackle had been carried out. He demonstrated how the position of the ball was important as to how the tackle situation developed, as it created an effect whereby it caused Wray to bounce backwards in the collision.

"The panel concluded on the balance of probabilities that the initial contact did not involve any direct contact to the head of Jackson Wray. Wray was off-balance in the tackle and the force of the tackle and the effect of the ball being between the two players caused Wray’s head to ‘whip’ backwards.

"On Wray’s own evidence, there was then a glancing contact to the underneath of his chin which was incidental to an otherwise legitimate tackle. In the panel’s view, and taking into account all of its rugby experience, that glancing contact did not pass the red card threshold.”

The full footage available to the Panel can be viewed here.

For background detail on panel members please click here.

For the NEW 2018/2019 sanctions table effective from 1 August 2018 (RFU Regulation 19 Appendix 2) please click here.