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'Latu is a problem': Furious club owner reacts to Wallabies' 11-week ban, says he has alcohol 'addiction'

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12th April, 2022
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Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu has been smashed with an 11-week suspension after a red card in the Heineken Champions Cup, and was accused of having a drinking problem by his club owner, continuing his long running issues with ill-discipline.

Latu was sent off in the second half of Stade Francais’ match against Racing 92 after dangerously clattering into Baptiste Chouzenoux in the air.

The ban comes three months after he was banned for a game for abusing referee Wayne Barnes.

European Professional Club Rugby, the organising body responsible for the Cup, said in a statement on Wednesday: “The independent disciplinary committee … considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence and submissions from the player, who accepted the red card decision.

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“The committee upheld the red decision, finding that Latu had committed an intentional act of foul play that warranted a red card. It then determined that the offending was at the top end of World Rugby’s sanctions and 12 weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

“The committee decided to reduce the sanction by two weeks given the player’s guilty plea and apology, and it also decided to add one week to the sanction due to the player’s poor disciplinary record before imposing an 11-week suspension.”

Latu was picked by Dave Rennie for the final match of the Wallabies Spring Tour late last year, and acknowledged the former Waratahs player had had a “chequered career”.

He was stood down by the Tahs over a drink driving charge in 2019 when police found him motionless behind the wheel of his car while stopped at a set of traffic lights on Cleveland Street in Sydney in the early hours of the morning.

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He has also struggled with on-field discipline and was suspended for six weeks during the 2018 Super Rugby campaign – the same year he was sin binned against the All Blacks for pushing Codie Taylor in the face.

Stade Francais owner Hans-Peter Wild, angered by the red card offence, told L’Equipe that Latu is still struggling with alcohol issues.

“We talk about discipline and Latu is still sent off against Racing,” he said.

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“Latu is a problem… mostly an extra-sporting problem with alcohol. You have to admit it, otherwise you will never solve the problem.

“Latu spends more time off the field than on it and, with regard to young people, it is not a good example.

“He has to heal himself, reorganise his life. We can help him, but as with any addiction, Latu is like an elephant in your living room. To solve the problem, you have to take out the elephant and not take out the objects that break.”

Nu’u cops three week suspension

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Melbourne Rebels’ Ray Nu’u has been suspended for three weeks after his red card against Western Force.

SANZAAR ruled the incident “merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby directive that mandates that any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range entry level.

“Taking into account mitigating factors, including the Player’s good judicial record, expressed remorse, and young age; the Judicial Committee reduced the suspension by three weeks.”

Nu’u can further reduce the ban by a week if he applies to undergo “Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention,” said SANZAAR.

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“Any player who has a citing or red card upheld by a disciplinary panel for foul play involving the Head Contact Process may apply to have the final week of their sanction substituted by undertaking a coaching intervention that specifically addresses the technical tackle/contact technique-error that caused or contributed to the foul play.

“This intervention will be overseen by the World Rugby Coaching Intervention Expert Review Panel – a panel of expert independent coaches – and is only be available to first time offenders.”

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