Japan lock Hitoshi Ono has been suspended for the June 11 test match against Canada after he was sin-binned for headbutting an opponent in the Sunwolves’ 66-5 loss to the Brumbies last weekend, SANZAR announced on Tuesday.
Ono was sin-binned just before halftime in Saturday’s blowout in Canberra. The veteran of 96 caps for Japan — who made it clear the strike was unintentional — could have received a stiffer sentence, but SANZAR took into account his “exceptional disciplinary record” and let him off with a one-game ban.
With no match next week, Ono misses the Canada test in Vancouver. The 38-year-old will be eligible for Japan’s two games at home to Scotland on June 18 and 25.
“Hitoshi Ono is currently the most capped Japanese player,” SANZAR judge Michael Heron said in a statement. “He has a remarkable disciplinary record in that he has not been cited or received a red card before this. He is a leader in his club and for his country.
“I considered that Ono-san should receive at least the maximum discount of 50 percent. … Further to that, I considered that a suspension of two weeks would be wholly disproportionate to the conduct involved, accepting that this was reckless behavior and not intentional use of the head.
“In particular the player’s exceptional disciplinary record made it very unlikely he would intend to strike another player with his head. The statement from the referee supported that.”