Paul Gabrillagues’ World Cup ambitions have been revived after he successfully appealed the six-week sanction handed down for foul play (contrary to Law 9.20) in the Test match between France and Scotland in Nice on August 17.
The French lock feared being left out of Jacques Brunel’s travelling 31 and his suspension meant he would miss three of his country’s four pool matches.
This prospect caused consternation, with some French commentators aghast at the length of the Gabrillagues’ ban compared to the leniency shown to Scott Barrett who was only suspended for three weeks after he was send off in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship defeat to Australia.
However, the halving of Gabrillagues’ punishment to a three-week penalty means he will now only miss one match at the World Cup, the opener against Argentina on September 21, and leaves World Rugby red-faced that its original six-week suspension hasn’t been vindicated.
Gabrillagues’ appeal was heard in London by an independent appeal committee comprising Christopher Quinlan QC (chair), Adam Casselden (Australia) and David Croft (former Australia player).
Sanction allégée pour Paul Gabrillagues, suffisant pour intégrer le groupe des 31 ? ?
La réponse de Jacques Brunel en conférence de presse ?? pic.twitter.com/lZZpUwkXXm
— Canal Rugby Club (@CanalRugbyClub) August 28, 2019
Having considered all the evidence and submissions by the player and his representative, the appeal committee determined that the act of foul play contrary to Law 9.20 merited a mid-range entry point, which has a starting point of six weeks.
The appeal committee found that there were no aggravating factors but in light of Gabrillagues’ admission, the fact the appeal committee accepted his account of the incident and other relevant features of mitigation, the committee reduced the suspension to three weeks.
— Serge Simon (@DrSergeSIMON) August 21, 2019
Gabrillagues is presently in the France squad named for the World Cup and his period of three weeks will operate across the following matches:
- Scotland v France on August 24 – for which he was suspended and did not play in, when otherwise he would have done, and therefore it counts as one match for the purposes of that suspension;
- France v Italy on August 30; and
- France v Argentina on September 21 France’s first RWC 2019 match).
???? Vendredi soir, le #XVdeFrance affronte l'Italie pour son dernier match de préparation avant la Coupe du Monde ! Voici votre équipe pour cette rencontre au @StadeFrance ! #FRAITA #NeFaisonsXV #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/x2A4vKlwR1
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) August 27, 2019
France, meanwhile, have made nine changes to the team to face the Italians following last Saturday’s loss to Scotland in Edinburgh. In the front row, Jefferson Poirot inherits the captain’s armband and will play his third match with Rabah Slimani. Camille Chat is at hooker.
The half-backs are Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget returns to the wing and Maxime Medard is at full-back. Wesley Fofana will link with Sofiane Guitoune, pushing Gael Fickou out to the wing.
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