Bundee Aki will miss Ireland’s Test matches against South Africa and Fiji in November after being given an eight-match ban.
Aki, 32, received the third red card of his career on Saturday for a dangerous clear-out on Seabelo Senatla as Connacht faced Stormers in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
The ban means Aki is set to miss the third autumn international match against Australia on Nov. 19 but will become available if he completes a coaching intervention programme.
A URC statement read: “In his responses to the Judicial Officer overseeing the disciplinary process [Pamela Woodman, Scotland], the Player had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.
“She determined that the player’s actions towards Seabelo Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in the player’s actions.
“Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.
“However, Ms. Woodman also considered the player’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.
“This was also taken into account [in accordance with URC’s Disciplinary Rules] in determining that the player’s offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.”
A number of factors, including Aki’s acceptance “he had committed an act of foul play,” his “expression of remorse” and “apologies to both the opposing player and referee,” shortened the Ireland centre’s ban.
But Aki’s previous two red cards and “suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees” meant a further two weeks were added on to his sanction with the possibility it could be reduced by one week with the coaching intervention programme.
Aki has played 40 times for Ireland and featured for the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa last year.