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France will appeal Paul Gabrillagues' six-week ban

By Liam Heagney
Paul Gabrillagues

France are to appeal the six-week ban handed down to second row Paul Gabrillagues. His lengthy suspension is set to rule him out of the remainder of France’s warm-up match programme along with their pool games versus Argentina, USA and Tonga at the World Cup in Japan. He will only become available to play again for their final match versus England on Yokahama on October 12. 

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Gabrillagues’ unavailability stems from his appearance on Tuesday before an independent World Rugby disciplinary committee after he was cited for foul play in the Test match against Scotland in Nice last Saturday.

The disciplinary committee – chaired by Simon Thomas (Wales) alongside Donal Courtney (Ireland) and Valeriu Toma (Romania, via Skype) – viewed footage with various angles of the incident in which Gabrillagues, in the 16th minute of the match, made contact with the head of John Barclay contrary to Law 9.20 – “a player must not charge into a ruck or maul”.

However, French rugby vice-president Serge Simon doesn’t believe the foul play warranted a World Cup-ruining ban. He tweeted on Wednesday night that the ban will be appealed. “Considered the sanction in the first instance very heavy and after discussion with Paul, we have decided to appeal,” he wrote.

Former France international Gregory Lamboley has earlier shared his dismay on Twitter after Gabrillagues was punished. Lamboley claimed it was “outrageous” that his compatriot received a six-week ban – reduced from a 10-week entry point – while the All BlacksScott Barrett only received a three-week ban for a head offence the week before, meaning he will not miss any of the World Cup. 

Barrett saw red in the first half of the first Bledisloe Cup Test two weekends ago for making contact with Australian captain Michael Hooper’s head. The majority of the rugby world agreed that it was a red card for Barrett, although his three-week ban was deemed light as it meant he only missed last weekend’s rematch against Australia.

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