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Banned Brad Shields cleared to play again with immediate effect

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Brad Shields has been cleared to play for Wasps with immediate effect after his appeal against a four-match ban was successful. The ex-England international was suspended following his red card for a tackle in last Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup loss to Munster. The sending-off by referee Romain Poite was viewed as very harsh, yet the New Zealander had the red card decision upheld at a disciplinary hearing and was set to miss this weekend’s European game at Toulouse and three Gallagher Premiership matches. 

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Wasps were furious with the outcome and their coach Lee Blackett explained on Wednesday at his weekly media conference that they would be appealing the verdict. They were right to do so as Shields was successful in arguing his case, is now free to play again and was named as his team’s skipper for their round two match in France but that fixture was ultimately postponed on Friday because of new travel restrictions brought in by the French government.

An EPCR statement read: “Brad Shields has had his appeal against a four-week suspension upheld following a hearing by video conference before an independent appeal committee on Thursday.

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“Shields was sent off by referee Romain Poite during his club’s Heineken Champions Cup round one match against Munster for tackling prop Dave Kilcoyne in a dangerous manner in contravention of law 9.13 and was subsequently suspended by an independent disciplinary committee. 

“The independent appeal committee comprising James Dingemans (England) chair, Donal Courtney (Ireland) and Roddy Dunlop (Scotland) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Shields, from Wasps team manager Dave Bassett, and from EPCR disciplinary officer Liam McTiernan. 

“The appeal committee agreed with the original decision that the red card threshold was passed. However, it decided that the disciplinary committee was wrong to find that there was no on-field mitigation. The appeal committee determined that there was on-field mitigation in that there was a late change in the dynamics of the tackle due to the tackle of another Wasps player, Thomas Young. This reduced the red card to a yellow card for the purposes of World Rugby’s head contact process. Therefore the appeal was upheld, and Shields is free to play.”

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“He is desperate to play,” explained Blackett at his Wednesday media briefing. “He probably feels harshly done a little bit but honestly we have not had loads of conversations about it, we were talking about other things. We were hoping we would get a positive result from last night, which we have not and whatever will happen will happen. Brad is the ultimate team man and he was gutted on the day, but he has reacted positively and has been leading out on the field on both training days we have done this week.”

Shields, who last month spoke at length to RugbyPass about the first-ever red card in his career which he received in September for two yellow-carded maul offences, had his tackle versus Munster ranked as a six-week entry point at his hearing and the fact he contested the charge meant he then didn’t receive the usual 50 per cent mitigation and was banned for four weeks rather than three.

There was mainly surprise that the original decision was a red card, pundits such as Andy Goode calling out the outcome reached by referee Poite, “He is what is known as a cowboy,” said Goode on this week’s Rugby Pod. “He is French, he is an absolute cowboy of a referee, Romain Poite, with that decision to send off Brad Shields with a red card. It is never a red. It doesn’t even make contact with his head for me.”

WASPS (vs Toulouse, Sunday)
15. Zach Kibirige; 14. Francois Hougaard, 13. Josh Bassett, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Luke Mehson; 10. Jimmy Gopperth, 9. Sam Wolstenholme; 1. Tom West, 2. Dan Frost, 3. Biyi Alo, 4. Vaea Fifita, 5. Tim Cardall, 6. Brad Shields (capt), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Alfie Barbeary. Reps: 16. Michael van Vuuren, 17. Robin Hislop, 18. Pieter Scholtz 19. Kieran Curran, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Will Porter, 22. Rob Miller, 23. Alex McHenry.

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