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Springboks hooker Du Plessis suspended for 4 weeks

March 23, 2015

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Springboks and Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis was suspended for four weeks on Monday for kicking an opponent in the head during a Super Rugby game this weekend.

Du Plessis was one of three players to be sent off and one of five to be cited for separate incidents during the Sharks’ 12-11 win over New Zealand’s Chiefs on Saturday.

Sharks captain Du Plessis was sent off for kicking Chiefs No. 8 Michael Leitch after he was tackled and both players were lying on the ground. Southern hemisphere rugby body SANZAR said Du Plessis pleaded guilty to the offense.

Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot was red-carded minutes before Du Plessis for an illegal shoulder charge at a ruck. He was suspended for one week.

Sharks center Frans Steyn was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle, but Steyn’s red card was rescinded later Monday and removed from his record. SANZAR ruled two other Sharks players were involved in the tackle on Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden and contributed to it being dangerous.

Chiefs captain Liam Messam and winger Tom Marshall were also cited for dangerous tackles in a game described as “ugly” by players from both sides.

Du Plessis was banned until after April 18, meaning he misses games against the Western Force, Crusaders, Lions and Bulls. He’ll be available again for the Sharks’ trip to New Zealand and Australia in May.

Du Plessis issued a statement apologizing, the second time this season the experienced South African international has said sorry for being involved in an off-the-ball incident. It’s led to criticism of him as a possible Springboks captain at this year’s World Cup in place of current skipper Jean de Villiers, who has a long-term injury.

“I am painfully aware that people have lost faith in my character and the values I claim to stand for,” Du Plessis said in a statement. “I intend to rectify that through actions going forward and not merely words.”

In another Super Rugby disciplinary case, New South Wales Waratahs’ South African flanker Jacques Potgieter was fined 20,000 Australian dollars ($15,600) for making anti-gay comments during a game on Sunday. Half the fine was suspended.

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