Bundee Aki has been given an 8 week suspension after receiving a red card for a reckless clear out on the Stormer's Seabelo Senatla.
Aki made contact with Senatla's head with his shoulder, during Connacht's loss on Saturday, before berating the referee after he was sent-off.
Connacht fans were fearing the worst, in terms of the length of the ban, given Aki's history, and the suspension will see him miss five crucial URC fixtures, including derbies against Leinster and Munster.
Given Connacht's position at the bottom of the URC table, a difficult run of games, and the competitiveness of the league, they need every advantage they can get if they are to finish in the top eight and qualify for next season's Champions Cup.
Aki will also miss Ireland's Autumn Internationals against South Africa and Fiji, and must complete a Coaching Interventions Course if he wishes to be available for the Australia game.
Bundee Aki Sentencing
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Following the game against the Stormers, Connacht head coach, Andy Friend, had little sympathy for Bundee Aki and his behaviour.
“There is contact to the head, so we need to protect players, bottom line. So, it’s a red card.
“My only frustration is that we had a player (Senatla) who was not supporting his own body weight, so it’s an illegal act that’s happening there. And then we have a player who comes in, but you shouldn’t hit the bloke in the head. The bottom line is we need to protect players, and there was contact to the head.”
“I thought the game was in the balance at that stage. They were 19-8 up, both teams were making errors, giving away penalties and I felt the next score was going to be a really crucial score. But when it happened it was one ruled against us because of the red card, so not only did we have the try taken off us but we went down to 14 men.
“It’s hard enough to beat the Stormers away from home, but with 14 men, it makes it very, very hard,”