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Amlin Challenge Cup
Jerome Fillol cops 14-week ban for spitting
ESPN Staff
April 11, 2013
Bath's Peter Stringer wraps up Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais, Bath v Stade Francais, Amlin Challenge Cup, The Rec, Bath, England, April 6, 2013
Jerome Fillol tussles with Peter Stringer © Getty Images
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Stade Francais' Jerome Fillol has been hit with a 14-week suspension for spitting at Bath scrum-half Peter Stringer in last Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.

The incident provoked widespread outrage in the game, with IRB CEO Brett Gosper calling on Fillol to be punished "to the full extent of the law".

Stringer complained to referee Nigel Owens following the incident that occurred in the first half of the Premiership side's 36-20 defeat but he did not see it and therefore did not act - with the tournament not one of those trialling the extended Television Match Official powers that allow input for incidents of suspected foul play.

Following Fillol's citing, the European Rugby Cup's (ERC) Judicial Officer Anthony Davis found Fillol guilty of the offence and hit him with a 26-week ban. This was then reduced to 14 weeks due to the "genuine remorse expressed by the player at the hearing, as well as his exemplary record and strong character references".

Comment

  • While the ban seems at face value to be quite harsh, the reality is a fair amount of the time is during the off season, rendering the punishment fairly limp. Stade Francais's last match is on May 4 and the 2013-14 season does not start until early August, so he will miss a handful of club games and be ineligible for any representative matches in the summer. This ridiculous situation highlights the need for a minimum number of matches to be included in any decisions.

The offence could have seen Fillol banned for up to a year and the ERC said that Fillol had committed "an intentional, deliberate and grave act" - an offence the organisation referred to as an "act contrary to good sportsmanship".

The ERC heard submissions from Fillol, who pleaded guilty, from the Stade Francais Paris secretary general, Cédric Boudarel, and from the club's legal counsel. The Judicial Officer also heard submissions from ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, and considered written evidence from Peter Stringer.

Fillol has three days to lodge an appeal and is free to play again on August 12. The suspension takes into account the closed season and therefore covers a 10-week period from 6 April to 16 June and a further four weeks from 15 July to 11 August but oddly also includes the period in between, ruling him out of any representative matches over the close season.

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