FRANCE PROP UINI Atonio has been banned for three matches after being cited for his high tackle on Ireland hooker Rob Herring, but the player will return for the round five fixture against Wales if he completes tackle school.

On Monday, the 32-year-old was cited for his tackle on Herring during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat of France on Saturday. Atonio was yellow-carded by referee Wayne Barnes, but the citing commissioner deemed it to meet the red-card threshold.

And following a hearing today, the La Rochelle player was handed a three-match ban which would rule him out of France’s remaining Six Nations fixtures against Scotland (26 February), England (11 March) and Wales (18 March).


Atonio appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having been cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 – a player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. 

Atonio admitted he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card.

A Six Nations statement confirmed: ”Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee accepted the Player’s admission that the tackle on Ireland No. 2 was foul play. His shoulder made contact with Ireland No. 2′s neck/face as described in the Citing Commissioner’s report and therefore reached the red card threshold.”

The committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head, resulting in a starting point of a six-week suspension.

The sanction was then reduced to three weeks (to be served on Six Nations match weeks) due to there being no aggravating factors, Atonio’s disciplinary record and the player’s remorse.

However, Atonio applied to take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention, which was granted by the committee – meaning he could return to feature in France’s round five fixture against Wales.

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The player also has the right of appeal within three working days of the issuing of the full written decision.

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