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Ban has ended Richie Gray's Autumn Nations Series with Scotland

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Hopes in Scotland that Richie Gray would escape a ban following the citing that arose from last Sunday’s defeat to the All Blacks have been dashed and he will miss this weekend’s Autumn Nations Series finale at home to Argentina. Scotland assistant coach Pieter de Villiers had spoken in advance of the disciplinary hearing and outlined that there was optimism Gray would be exonerated of the alleged foul play.

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“Richie has always been an example of discipline on and off the field,” said de Villiers. “There was absolutely no malicious intention in his gesture there so we have got confidence that the process will go well. Obviously, it is not in our hands, but Richie has always been a brilliant example in terms of discipline.”

However, this Scottish confidence wasn’t supported at Gray’s hearing and he has been banned for three games, this Saturday’s Test match and two URC games for Glasgow. A statement read: “Scotland lock Richie Gray appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having been cited for an act of foul play contrary to law No 9.20(a) (dangerous play in a ruck or maul; a player must not charge into a ruck or maul) in Scotland’s international match against New Zealand on November 16.

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“The independent disciplinary committee chaired by Shao-ing Wang (Singapore), joined by former international Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) and former international referee Juan-Pablo Spirandelli (Argentina), heard the case, considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative.

“The disciplinary committee considered and accepted submissions from the player’s representative that the charge be amended to law 9.11 (players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others including leading with the elbow or forearm).

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“The player denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that on the balance of probabilities, there was foul play in that the player had led with his elbow into the tackle area which was dangerous to others. Applying World Rugby’s head contact process, the committee determined that there was contact with the head, that the player had acted recklessly, that there was a high degree of danger, and that there was no mitigation.

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“On that basis, the committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension. Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s excellent disciplinary record, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):

  • November 19:Scotland-v Argentina, ANS
  • November 26: Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, URC
  • December 3: Glasgow Warriors v Zebre URC

“The player may apply to take part in the coaching intervention programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”

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