Ticats Simoni Lawrence loses appeal, arbitrator upholds 2-game suspension

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be without linebacker Simoni Lawrence for two games.

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday in favour of the CFL’s original suspension, a week after Lawrence met with the arbitrator after appealing the ban the CFL levied against him last month.

The decision was somewhat surprising. The expectation was the suspension would be reduced to just one game shortly after the CFL Players’ Association announced it was grieving the original ban on Lawrence’s behalf.

The CFL was pleased with the arbitrator’s decision.

“Dangerous and reckless play must be disciplined, not simply for the sake of punishment, but to deter such play in the future,” the league said in a statement. “We all need to take and support strong action to promote and protect player health and safety.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our players on this mission. Mr. Lawrence is now required to serve his two-game suspension, starting with his team’s next game, scheduled for Friday, July 26.”

The CFL suspended Lawrence for two games after he hit quarterback Zach Collaros in the head during Hamilton’s season-opening 23-17 home win over Saskatchewan on June 13. Lawrence received a 25-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on the play.

Collaros didn’t return to the contest and went on the six-game injured list shortly afterwards. A repentant Lawrence said he didn’t mean to hurt his former teammate, and the CFLPA’s grievance of the suspension June 19 allowed Lawrence to continue playing until the arbitrator’s decision came down.

The six-foot-one, 231-pound Lawrence is in his eighth CFL season, seventh with Hamilton. He’s fifth overall in tackles with a team-high 23 as well as three sacks and two interceptions in five games with the Ticats, who are atop the East Division standings with a 4-1 record.

Hamilton is currently on a bye week. As a result of the arbitrator’s decision, Lawrence will miss the Ticats’ home game July 26 against Winnipeg and their Aug. 1 road contest versus Saskatchewan.

Lawrence will be eligible to return to the Ticats’ lineup Aug. 10 when they host the B.C. Lions at Tim Hortons Field.

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