DURBAN – There were significant developments on the hooker front for the Sharks yesterday, with Akker van der Merwe escaping serious censure for a fist fight in the Super Rugby derby with the Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park, while Chiliboy Ralepelle is set to find out today whether he is guilty of a doping offence.
The good news is that Van der Merwe was given a light three-week ban for his altercation with the Bulls’ Schalk Brits when many thought he could get as much as three months, such was the ferocity of his blitz on Brits.
It is understood that there was initial provocation from Brits and that the 36-year-old is in fact in line for a heavier (four-week) suspension than Van der Merwe when he faces the music this morning.
After the Van der Merwe hearing yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Adam Casselden, said Van der Merwe’s act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks but the suspension was reduced due to mitigating factors.
“Taking into account the player’s good judicial record and the fact he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, we reduced the suspension to three weeks.”