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Scotland explain why they feel Richie Gray can escape sanction

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

Assistant coach Pieter de Villiers is confident Scotland lock Richie Gray will escape sanction after he was cited for foul play in Sunday’s agonising defeat by New Zealand. The 33-year has been accused of breaching law 9.20(a) which states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul.

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He will attend an independent disciplinary hearing via video conference on Wednesday, but the Scotland camp are optimistic that he will be cleared to face Argentina in this Saturday’s fourth and final autumn Test at BT Murrayfield.

“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.”

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Gray made his first Scotland start in five years against Fiji earlier this month and then continued his international renaissance by retaining his place for the visit of the All Blacks on Sunday. De Villiers has been impressed with the Glasgow veteran’s contribution.

“His leadership and his experience set-piece-wise has been massive for us and his work outside set-piece as well is really good,” he said. “He has brought a lot to the table for us and it’s been great to see him in such good form.”

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Finn Russell’s partner is due to give birth imminently, but de Villiers explained that Scotland are preparing as if the Racing 92 fly-half will be available for the Argentina game. “Still no news with regard to baby so Finn is still with us and we are planning as if he is still here,” he said. “We will manage things as they appear.”

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Scotland are familiar with Argentina after narrowly losing a three-Test series against the Pumas in July. The Scots blew a 15-point lead in the closing stages of the decisive Test. “Both teams know each other well,” said de Villiers. “It was quite a physical affair against Argentina, they normally play that way, so we know we will have to do well in that area.

“We were frustrated to lose in the summer. Things got away from us in the second half so it’s important to be present for all 80 minutes and make sure we finish off this campaign well.”

De Villiers revealed that Sale hooker Ewan Ashman, who has a slight shoulder niggle, is the only injury concern Scotland have ahead of the clash with the Pumas.

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