Ireland’s Aki handed four-match ban after red card against England

The Connacht centre was shown a red card by French referee Mathieu Raynal after 64 minutes of Saturday’s clash at the Aviva Stadium for making contact with the head of Billy Vunipola during a tackle.

Aki’s dismissal did not cost Ireland their most impressive victory – 32-18 – of the Andy Farrell era to date in Dublin, though it did open the door to late tries from Ben Youngs and Jonny May that at least made the scoreline more respectable from an English perspective.

It is the second time that the New Zealand-born 30-year-old has been handed his marching orders in 31 appearances for Ireland, with Aki also sent off for a high hit during the win over Samoa at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

He will now be sidelined for the next four matches with Connacht, who face Leicester Tigers in the last-16 of the European Challenge Cup at Welford Road on April 3.

At an independent disciplinary committee on Monday, Aki accepted that he had committed an act of foul play – deemed reckless rather than deliberate or intentional – that warranted a red card.

His “clear remorse and concern for the welfare of Mr Vunipola” led to a two-week reduction in his suspension for an offence that carries an entry point of six weeks, though Aki’s previous disciplinary record meant that he was not afforded a 50 per cent reduction.

Additional reporting by PA.

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