Canadian rugby forward Michael Smith suspended three weeks for dangerous play


Canadian flanker Michael Smith has been suspended for three weeks in the wake of his red card in Canada’s 24-0 rugby win over Belgium on Saturday.

The San Diego Legion forward was sent off in the 18th minute for dangerous play, specifically a shoulder to the face of Belgian lock Guillaume Mortier at the breakdown.

Captain Lucas Rumball tried to protest the ejection, but was shut down by Italian referee Andrea Piardi, who produced the red card after going to a sideline monitor to review the play.

In an appearance before an independent judicial committee via video link, Smith “accepted that he had committed both the act of foul play and accepted that the offence was worthy of a red card,” according to World Rugby.

As a result, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head.

A six-week suspension, the starting point for such offences, was cut in half due to mitigating factors including the acknowledgement of wrongdoing, Smith’s prior disciplinary record, “good character” and “remorse for his conduct.”

The committee was chaired by Marcello d’Orey of Portugal, joined by former international players Olly Kohn of Wales and Mike Ross of Ireland.

Smith will miss San Diego’s Major League Rugby games Feb. 6 against the Utah Warriors, Feb. 12 against the Dallas Jackals and Feb. 20 against the Seattle Seawolves.

The 23-year-old from White Rock, B.C., can further reduce the ban to two games by applying to take part in the coaching intervention program “aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”

The six-foot-two, 220-pounder played at the University of British Columbia, helping the Thunderbirds to the national championship in 2017 and ’18. He was named captain in 2019 and, in April 2020, earned the Bobby Gaul Memorial Award as UBC’s outstanding graduating male athlete of the year.

With the 2020 university season shut down due to the pandemic, he started training in September 2020 at the Rugby Canada National Development Academy in Langford, B.C. That earned him an invitation to Canada’s high-performance camp last November.

Smith is the second Canadian international to go before a disciplinary committee this month due to a red card.

Forward Laetitia Royer escaped further punishment after being sent off in Canada’s 26-13 win over the U.S. in the World Rugby Pacific Four Series on Nov. 5 in Glendale, Colo.

Canada was reduced to 14 players in the 63rd minute when Royer, penalized for a high tackle, was sent off for a second yellow card. The first yellow came in the 50th minute with the lock paying the price after Canada was warned for too many infringements.

World Rugby said Royer accepted the on-field sanctions. The committee then decided no further sanction was necessary.

The third-ranked Canadian women play No. 11 Wales in Cardiff on Sunday.