O'Connell awaits punishment

Des Berry

Munster captain Paul O'Connell will find out his fate on Thursday for getting a straight red card from French referee Christophe Berdos for striking the Ospreys number eight Jonathan Thomas.

He will face an independent disciplinary hearing in Dublin to review the incident for smashing his elbow into the face of Thomas, which carries a maximum sanction of one year.

The facts that O'Connell had suffered minor provocation from Thomas, had struck out blindly without view of where Thomas was, and has a solid disciplinary record, will work in his favour. However, it was an action made in contravention of Law 10.4 (a) for 'striking an opponent'.


He could receive a ban in the mid-range area of five to nine weeks. In other words, he could miss Munster's last three matches in Pool Three of the Heineken Cup, away to the Ospreys next Saturday and the January dates away to Toulon and at home to London Irish.

There is even the possibility that part, or all, of the Six Nations campaign could be in jeopardy, depending on the judgement of the independent Judicial Officer, Jeff Blackett.

Afterwards, both parties to the hearing (ERC and the player) have the right to appeal decisions of the independent disciplinary hearing as long as they are lodged within 72 hours of receiving the full written decision of the independent judicial officer.