France’s best laid World Cup plans have encountered another roadblock as second row Paul Gabrillagues has been suspended until midnight on October 6.
His six-week ban means he will miss the remainder of France’s warm-up match programme along with their pool games versus Argentina, USA and Tonga at the finals in Japan. He will only become available to play again for their final match versus England on Yokahama on October 12.
Gabrillagues’ unavailability stems from his appearance on Tuesday before an independent World Rugby disciplinary committee after he was cited for alleged 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, allegedly made contact with the head of an opponent contrary to Law 9.20 – “a player must not charge into a ruck or maul”.
The disciplinary committee also considered the written evidence and listened to submissions by and on behalf of the player, in which Gabrillagues accepted that the alleged act did amount to foul play worthy of a red card.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) August 20, 2019
Having considered the evidence and the submissions, the disciplinary committee deemed that the foul play was intentional, the offence took place at a considerable pace and with considerable force to the opposition’s head such that the player sustained an injury.
The committee determined that the act merited a top-end entry point which, according to World Rugby’s sanctions table within Regulation 17, carries a minimum 10-week suspension.
Having noted Gabrillagues’ early acknowledgement of guilt, his apology and expression of remorse to his opponent and his good conduct at the hearing, the disciplinary committee reduced the 10-week entry point by 40 per cent, resulting in a sanction of six weeks.
Taking into account Gabrillagues’ playing schedule, the suspension will end at midnight on Sunday, October 6. The player has the right to appeal the decision within 48 hours of receiving the written decision.
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