Munster go home smiling despite Alex Nankivell suspension for URC semi-final

Alex Nankivell has been banned for three weeks for receiving a red card in the Munster United Rugby Championship semi-final against Glasgow Warriors last month.

The 27-year-old received a red card from referee Andrea Piardi in the 74th minute of the 17-10 defeat against the eventual URC champions at Thomond Park for dangerously entering a scrum.

Following a red card hearing, the Justice Officer ruled that the incident met the requirements for a red card and warranted a six-week suspension.

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Due to the player's good disciplinary record, the ban was halved, meaning the New Zealander will miss the pre-season games against Bath and Gloucester, as well as the opening game of the URC season against Connacht.

However, should Nankivell complete the World Rugby Coaching Intervention Programme, the suspension will be reduced by a week, meaning he could return without missing a single competitive rugby match, providing a boost for the province.

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A statement from the URC read: “Following a foul by Munster player No. 12 (Alex Nankivell), referee Andrea Piardi showed the player a red card in the 74th minute of play under Law 9.20a – A player must not charge into a scrum or a crowd. A charge is any non-binding contact with another player in the scrum or a crowd.

“In his replies to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary proceedings (advocate Sibonile Khoza), the player had admitted that he had committed a foul warranting a red card.

“Mr Khoza concluded that the incident was the minimum penalty for a red card and that a mid-range offence warranted six weeks. The player was given a three-week (50%) reduction in his sentence due to his apology and good record, resulting in a three-match suspension.”