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Suniula was red carded during the June 26 test match against Italy for a late tackle. Many felt the red-carding was harsh, and even a yellow might be harsh. However, the panel was forced to rule on the offense, and certainly were not going to undercut referee Jerome Garces’s ruling.
(Garces, by any measurement, had a poor game, failing to police the scrum, offside line, or rucks with any consistency or accuracy. And his red carding of Suniula and Emerick were unnecessarily harsh in an international game where tackles just after a pass or kick are common.)
Emerick was red carded in the same game for a late tackle ruled to also be a no-wrap tackle (cursory examination of the video shows that Emerick clearly had his right arm around his target).
In the end, both players were punished, but not severely.
According to sources, Suniula has been suspended for two weeks, which will likely be served during his club’s 7s season, and if not, it means he misses part of the Cornish Pirates preseason.
Emerick’s punishment is (again, according to sources), at first glance, more severe. He gets nine weeks – this is in part because Emerick has been suspended twice before (2007 World Cup, and following a deserved red card against Canada in 2010). However, the fine print of the ruling appears to give a message that the panel recognized that Emerick had been treated harshly. It is nine weeks, or nine games, and 7s games count.
Emerick registered with the Chicago Lions early in June, before the USA v Italy match, and could well serve out his suspension by not playing for the Lions (it’s unclear whether one 7s game counts as one suspended game, or if it’s one tournament, or one day of a tournament).
The official announcement, with more details, is expected soon.