STATEMENT REGARDING MICHAEL LE BOURGEOIS
Bedford Blues captain Michael Le Bourgeois was handed a six week ban following an RFU Disciplinary Panel on Wednesday 1st February.
Le Bourgeois was charged with making contact with opponents' head following an incident during Saturday's 22-40 home defeat against Doncaster Knights. During a ruck, Le Bourgeois attempted to disrupt the ball but accidently caught a player with his boot in the process.
The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge and was handed the six week ban. He is free to play again from Tuesday 14th March.
Speaking after the full judgement was received, Bedford Blues Chairman Geoff Irvine said: “I would like to take the time to explain the background to this ban for our supporters. Michael has been very unfortunate to suffer under the new disciplinary tariff introduced by World Rugby on the 1st January 2017. If this incident had happened before 31st December 2016, the offence would have come in at the lower end which would have seen a four week ban that would have been reduced to just two weeks.
“The Club took the very best of legal advice for Michael, who has an exemplary disciplinary record, and on their recommendation he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. It was felt that there would have been little chance of a successful challenge and Michael would have risked a longer ban.
“I attended the hearing to present mitigation on Michael’s behalf and the RFU panel was very sympathetic but explained that they had no choice but to follow the new directive of World Rugby. In their judgement they even stated that ‘…it is sufficient for this panel to say that this offending must, when considered on the scale of offending of its type, be as firmly at the lower end of seriousness as it could possibly have been,’ which speaks volumes to me.”
Le Bourgeois added: "I apologise for this incident during the game but it was not a malicious act in any way and I only had the intention of freeing the ball. I had no recollection of actually making contact with Sean Scanlon’s head and, as stated in the judgement, neither did he.
"I'm particularly sorry to the Blues fans, players and coaches that I won't be able to help Bedford on the pitch in the coming weeks, but I will do my utmost in training to help the team prepare as we head into a very competitive series of fixtures."
Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer commented: "Michael is a passionate player who always gives one hundred percent for the cause. He is bitterly disappointed that this incident occurred and anyone who knows him, knows that he would never purposely set out to injure a fellow professional. Michael is committed to working hard over the duration of his ban to ensure that he is in the best possible shape for his return next month."
You can see a video of the incident by clicking HERE.