Nico Lee’s season is over.
Nico Lee’s season is over.

Snot on: 13-week ban for 'act of stupidity'

A South African rugby player has copped a massive ban after spraying snot on the face of an opponent.

Cheetahs centre Nico Lee was handed a 13-week suspension after the unsportsmanlike conduct during a Pro14 match against Connacht.

The 24-year-old admitted he "cleared the contents of his nose onto the face of an opposing player thereby committing an act of foul play" when he sprayed Connacht flanker Colby Fainga'a, IOL reported.

A three-man disciplinary committee concluded that Lee had committed an intentional act of foul play and he was given the lengthy ban that rules him out for the Cheetahs until July 21.

"With regard to the offence, the player accepted that he had cleared the contents of his nose on to the face of an opposing player, thereby committing an act of foul play," the Pro14 body said.

"The player's actions are an act of foul play. They have no place in the game.

"This is not a case of over-exuberance, or an act which is within the rules of the game going awry. It follows that by its nature, this act is one that is deserving of punishment. It is contrary to the spirit of sport.

"The effect on the victim player was understandably serious. There is no expectation, and there ought never be an expectation, that an opposing player would clear the contents of their nose on to an opponent.

"It is difficult to imagine how an act of foul play of this sort could be worse, save for repeated acts or where actual injury is caused."

The entry point of the offence was a 26-week ban, however with Lee's admission of facts and clean record, his punishment was reduced by 50 per cent. He will miss the remainder of the Pro14 tournament.

"I would just like to start by apologising to Cheetah rugby, my teammates, the supporters and the Guinness Pro14 and everyone that believed in me, for my actions," Lee said in a video on the Cheetahs Twitter account.

"That's not the type of person or player I am. It was an act of stupidity. I would just like to say sorry and apologise for everything."

Nico Lee was remorseful.
Nico Lee was remorseful.

In a statement, the Cheetahs took a dim view of Lee's "uncharacteristic behaviour".

"The unsportsmanlike behaviour is seen in a very serious light by rugby hierarchy. The Cheetahs condemn this behaviour which it is not part of the team culture and accept the punishment as such," the franchise said.

"Nico is a star player and according to information from the team, he deeply regrets his behaviour and apologised immediately after the match to the opponent.

"The Cheetahs realise that he is remorseful of his actions and the team accepts the apology."

This article first appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission