Wales prop Samson Lee was slapped with a five-week ban for his ugly headbutt on South African lock Flip van der Merwe in the second Test in Nelspruit last week.
The 21-year-old prop, who made his first start in an international, will miss the first three weeks of Scarlets’ Pro12 season and friendlies against Bath and Gloucester.
He was cited by James Absaloms (Kenya) for the incident, which saw his opponent receive treatment for a blood injury, but was not punished on the field – despite Springbok captain Victor Matfield pleading with referee Steve Walsh to refer the matter to the TMO.
IRB disciplinary officer Christopher Quinlan imposed a 10-week suspension, but the ban was halved because of Lee’s admission of “reckless conduct”, his youth and his remorse at the hearing.
Wales lost the two-Test series 0-2, losing 16-38 in the first Test in Durban before an agonising 30-31 defeat last Saturday.
Quinlan said that he had received a statement from the victim.
“The player and his team accepted that the player’s foul play caused an injury, in respect of which he [Van der Merwe] left the field of play and received treatment.
“During a maul where both players were on the ground, No.3 [Lee] held the SA No.4 [Van der Merwe] and headbutted him on the side of the face. The victim player was later forced to leave the field of play for medical attention. The incident is caught on video.”
The incident took place in the 44th minute of the match.
“The Player said he did not intend to hurt or injure Van der Merwe,” Quinlan said, adding: “He just wanted to get free of him.
“I enquired about his disciplinary record. Disarmingly, he said he could not remember how many times he had been sent off.”
“The Player’s season is now over. Given my findings, the suspension will begin to have a meaningful effect on August 16, the date of the Bath fixture.
“The next match which has a meaningful playing consequence for the player [Lee] is against Gloucester. Thereafter the Pro12 League starts on weekend of [Friday] September 5. Although (to my knowledge) the fixture list has not been published I accept league matches will follow on consecutive weekends thereafter.”