25 Mar 2015

Chiefs Messam free to play

12:38 pm on 25 March 2015

The Chiefs Super Rugby captain Liam Messam is free to play this weekend after having his offence downgraded by the SANZAR judiciary.

The Chiefs captain Liam Messam is tackled.

The Chiefs captain Liam Messam is tackled. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Messam was investigated on allegations of foul play in their loss to Sharks in Durban at the weekend.

The All Black's arm was around an opponent's neck during a tackle.

The judiciary amended the offence from dangerous tackle to an act contrary to good sportsmanship, to which Messam pleaded guilty but no sanction was imposed.

The judicial officer found the entry point of the offence to be at the lower end and after consideration of possible mitigating and aggravating features involved, he concluded that no further sanction should be imposed as a suspension would be wholly disproportionate to the level of offending involved in this case.

Those factors included the player's exemplary disciplinary record across a lengthy career including 134 Super Rugby matches and 42 Test matches for the All Blacks.

A statement says it is clear that the tackle was initially legal, the right arm then slipped around the neck of the Sharks No.7 after they went to ground and holding on to the tackled player around his neck in such a manner puts the player in a vulnerable position.

There were three red cards in the match.

Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis was banned for four games for kicking and rival hooker Hika Elliot for one game for a shoulder charge.

The Sharks star Francois Steyn was cleared of a dangerous tackle.

The Chiefs play the Cheetahs in Hamilton on Saturday night.

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