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Six Nations boost for England as Henry Slade red card dismissed

By Liam Heagney
(Photo via EPCR)

Henry Slade has been cleared for England Six Nations duty and he can also play for Exeter in their Heineken Champions Cup game versus Castres after the midfielder had last weekend’s red card at Bulls dismissed. Eventually beaten 28-39 in Pretoria, the Chiefs were 14-32 behind on 54 minutes when Slade chased down Bulls full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse.

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Arendse ducked as Slade tackled and while his swinging arm action didn’t initially appear to be a red card incident, assistant referee Thomas Charabas, who had just taken control of the match at Loftus Versfeld as referee Mathieu Raynal limped off four minutes earlier, brandished that colour card after reviewing the footage with his TMO.

Both Conor O’Shea, the RFU performance director, and ex-England skipper Lawrence Dallaglio, who were on studio punditry duty for BT Sport, predicted that Slade would get the red card rescinded and they were proven right when an EPCR statement on the disciplinary hearing emerged on Wednesday morning.

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It read: “Exeter centre Henry Slade has had the red card which was issued to him during his club’s Champions Cup round three match against the Bulls dismissed following an independent disciplinary hearing.

“An independent disciplinary committee comprising Jennifer Donovan (Ireland, chair), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Yannick Jauzion (France) considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence from Slade, who did not accept the red card decision, and heard submissions from the player’s legal representative, Richard Smith KC, from the Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter, and from the EPCR disciplinary officer Liam McTiernan.

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“The committee decided that while Slade had committed an act of foul play, it did not warrant a sending off. The red card decision was therefore dismissed and he is free to play. EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.”

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The outcome is good news for England as Slade, who featured in all four of the recent Autumn Nations Series matches at Twickenham, was named on Monday by new head coach Steve Borthwick in his Six Nations squad ahead of the February 4 opener at home to Scotland.

On BT Sport at the weekend, RFU boss O’Shea had said: “We saw some pretty clear red cards today and the official [Charabas] was in a difficult position coming on. He was about three, four minutes into it, probably not at the pace of the game. You are never going to second guess what they will do but I would imagine it is going to be looked at again.

“When you look at it from a number of different angles, the player is dipping. It hits the shoulder and rides up. It’s more seatbelt than anything for me… We have to protect the players and sometimes the wrong decision will be reached. In this case, we will find it is. ”

Fellow pundit Dallaglio added: “It’s a yellow card at best and will be reduced accordingly.”

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