Exeter to discipline Wales player Craig Mitchell over bar punch

Craig Mitchell
Image caption Wales and Exeter Chiefs prop Craig Mitchell apologised and said his actions were 'totally unacceptable'

A Wales rugby international is to be disciplined by his club after being sentenced for punching a man in Australia while following the British and Irish Lions.

Exeter Chiefs prop Craig Mitchell, 27, capped 15 times by Wales, hit Cian Barry in a bar in Brisbane on Sunday.

He was given a six-month suspended sentence by Brisbane magistrates and fined A$1,800 (£1,094).

Exeter said in a statement it did not condone law breaking of any kind.

The club confirmed Mitchell would now face disciplinary action.

"Exeter Rugby Club deeply regrets that one of its employees has faced court action in relation to their personal behaviour," said the statement.

"The club does not condone law breaking of any kind and will continue to stress with all of its employees the importance of acting as positive ambassadors - even in difficult and unwanted circumstances.

"Craig Mitchell wishes to express his remorse not only to the victim and those involved in the incident, but also to Exeter Rugby Club, the Welsh Rugby Union and his family."

The prop joined Exeter from the Ospreys in 2011 and signed a one-year extension to his deal with the Aviva Premiership club last season.

The court was told Mr Barry had been trying to smooth over an altercation between his friends and a group of Lions supporters in a Brisbane bar after the tourists' victory in the first Test.

A fight broke out and Mitchell, who admitted aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm, punched Mr Barry.

Mitchell must also pay compensation of A$3,000 (£1,800) to his victim.

His companion, Richard Davies, was fined A$1,000 (£600) and ordered to pay A$2,000 (£1,200) in compensation for his part in the incident after admitting the same charge.

Local media reported that Mr Barry had been knocked unconscious.

Mitchell, a former Ospreys and Neath player, apologised to his victim saying: "My actions... were totally unacceptable and unforgivable."

But after the case Mr Barry said the apology meant nothing and Mitchell should have been jailed.

Magistrate Anne Thacker told Mitchell he needed to be made an example of.

"It has to deter other Australians from this sort of behaviour at football matches," she said.

Night in custody

Mitchell's lawyer John Cook said he could not say what implications it would have for his client's playing career.

But he has been given back his passport and is free to leave the country, the court heard.

"We're in a position now where he wants to head off, he's had a night in the watch house [in custody], he had very little sleep and was obviously very anxious because a term of imprisonment [was possible]," said Mr Cook.

Mitchell had spent a night in custody ahead of his sentencing after expressing reservations about paying compensation at short notice.

The player made his debut for the Ospreys as a teenager having represented Wales at junior levels.

His first senior international game was against Canada on the summer tour of North America in May 2009.

He has played 15 times for Wales, including the second Test against Japan on 15 June. He had missed Wales' first Test in Osaka due to an ankle injury.

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