Disciplinary Update: Paul Willemse

Paul Willemse

Independent Disciplinary update:  Paul Willemse Decision

France Number 5, Paul Willemse, today appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 as well as being cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.15 in the same fixture between France and Ireland on Friday 2 February 2024.

The independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Stephen Hardy – Chairman (Australia), Leon Lloyd (England) and Sarah Smith (Scotland) heard the case, considered all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representatives.

In relation to the sending off, the player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card being issued (so that was upheld).  In respect of the cited foul play, the player accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but denied that it had been worthy of a red card.

Having considered the incidents separately, including the relevant supporting statements and footage, the Committee deemed that the red card threshold was reached in respect of the citing, meaning that too was upheld. The Committee however accepted that whilst both actions were reckless, there was no evidence to suggest the player acted maliciously or with intent in either case. The Committee also highlighted the player had presented himself admirably in the process and shown remorse for his actions.

Following World Rugby’s mandatory guidelines, the sending off incident warranted a mid-range entry point of six weeks suspension.   Mitigating factors were applied by the Committee reducing the six-week entry point by two weeks, resulting in a sanction of four weeks for this offence.

In respect of the citing, following the same guidelines, the incident also warranted a mid-range entry point of a four-week suspension. Having applied the same level of mitigating factors, the Committee reduced the four-week entry point by one week, resulting in a sanction of three weeks.

Having reviewed a number of previous cases, and considered the facts of this case, the Committee deemed that it would be disproportionate for the suspensions to run consecutively.  Therefore the sanctions will run concurrently covering a period of four weeks (based on the longer sanction).

The sanction is to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule:

  • Scotland v France, 10 February 2024 (Six Nations)

  • Racing 92 v Montpellier, 17 February 2024 (Top 14)

  • France v Italy, 25 February 2024 (Six Nations) OR

  • Montpellier v Bayonne, 24 February (Top 14)

  • Oyonnax v Montpellier, 2 March 2024* (top 14)

* The player has been given permission to apply to take part in World Rugby's Coaching Intervention Programme.

Press Release and Written Decision can be found by clicking here