Liz Patu, captain of the Australian women’s rugby team, has been banned for six weeks for biting an opponent.
The incident occurred in the Super W clash between Patu’s Queensland Reds and Rugby WA, where footage shows the prop biting fellow Wallaroos forward Rebecca Clough in a ruck.
Clough complained to referee Laura West during the game, pointing to bite marks on her arm. The citing decision by Rugby Australia means Patu, who was named Test captain last year, will miss the rest of the season.
“I’d like to express my remorse for my actions in Saturday’s match,” said Patu in a statement.
“I apologize to Rebecca Clough, the Rugby WA women’s team, my own teammates and the wider rugby public. I’ve played club, state and international rugby and previously haven’t committed an act such as this and I accept my punishment.”
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Drew Mitchell, the former Australian wing who was commentating on the match for Fox Sports, strongly condemned Patu’s actions.
“That is disgusting and it’s not a part of our game, especially from an Australian representative and a captain at that.” Mitchell said as replays showed the bite on Clough’s forearm.
Queensland ran out 28-3 winners in the weekend’s encounter, the only team to win its opening two encounters of the Super W season.
“Behavior like this is unacceptable in our game and we support the suspension handed down by the judiciary,” said a statement by the club’s assistant coach Tyrell Barker.
“As we continue to work to build the women’s game, we need to ensure that players have a safe playing and training environment from the grassroots through to the elite level of the game.
“We also have a duty of care to the player in question. Liz has been a part of Queensland and national programs for a long time, and her actions on the weekend were out of character.
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“We will work with Liz to ensure that when she returns to play, she will demonstrate the spirit of rugby and abide by the laws of the game.”