LONDON, 13 Oct – Ross Ford and Jonny Gray (Scotland) have each been suspended for three weeks for dangerous tackles contrary to Law 10.4(j).
Following a review of broadcast footage, Ross Ford and Jonny Gray were both cited by independent Citing Commissioner Scott Nowland (Australia) under Law 10.4(j) during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B match against Samoa at St James’ Park on 10 October.
Both players denied committing an act of foul play.
Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence, including from the players and submissions from their representative, the independent Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC (England) was satisfied that each player committed an act of foul play contrary to law 10.4(j) and so upheld the citing.
In the IRB (now World Rugby) Memorandum on “Dangerous tackles” dated 8 June, 2009 the Referees Manager and Judicial Panel Chairman highlighted that “tackles involving a player being lifted off the ground and tipped horizontally and were then either forced or dropped to the ground… must be dealt with severely by match officials and all those involved in the disciplinary process.”
With respect to the sanction, the Judicial Officer deemed the act of foul play merited a low-end entry point, namely four weeks. The Judicial Officer added one week for aggravation due to the need to deter this type of dangerous foul play. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the players’ conduct prior to and at the hearing, their expressions of regret, exemplary characters and excellent disciplinary records, the Judicial Officer reduced the suspension to a period of three weeks in respect of each player.
In the context of Rugby World Cup, three weeks equates to three matches and therefore neither player will be available to play for the remainder of Rugby World Cup 2015. Any remaining sanction not applied in the tournament context will revert to weeks for the players’ respective club fixtures.
The players have 48 hours in which to appeal from receipt of the written decision.
The full judgment will be available here within the next 24 hours.