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'The reddest of red cards' missed by Wayne Barnes is belatedly punished as Toulouse skipper Marchand banned for Champions Cup final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Foul play described as the reddest of red cards by former Lions captains Brian O’Driscoll and Sam Warburton has led to cited Toulouse skipper Julien Marchand copping a four-match ban that has ruled him out of next week’s Heineken Champions Cup final versus La Rochelle at Twickenham. O’Driscoll and Warburton were incensed in their BT Sport post-game TV review that the second-half shoulder by Marchand to the head of Bordeaux’s Romain Buros went unpunished during the game.


“That is the reddest of red cards,” fumed O’Driscoll after the foul play had escaped the attentions of referee Wayne Barnes and his team of officials. “He almost has to spring to get the collision shoulder to the impact point. There is no bend of the body from Buros. He is fully straight and Marchand has hit high. For me, would it have been the difference in changing the game? Potentially. It’s still only a five-point game.”

Warburton added at the time: “Another point worth mentioning is there was no wrap at all, it was pure tuck of the right arm. There is nothing going in his favour in that example. Like you say, it is the reddest of reds.”

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The collision didn’t escape the attention of the match citing commissioner, Ed Kenny, and a disciplinary hearing has now ruled Marchand out of the European final. He hasn’t played since the May 1 semi-final in Toulouse and will only be free to play again on May 31.

He already missed last weekend’s Top 14 defeat at Toulon and will be absent from other league games versus Bayonne and Clermont, along with the European final on May 22, before being allowed to line out again.

A media release outlining the disciplinary hearing outcome read: “An independent disciplinary committee comprising Simon Thomas (Wales, chair), Gareth Graham (England) and Antony Wheat (Ireland) considered video imagery of the incident and heard submissions from Marchand, who did not accept the charge, from the player’s legal representative Neil Robertson, from Dr Johan Merbalh of the University of Toulon, from Toulouse club president Didier Lacroix, from Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola, and from EPCR disciplinary officer Liam McTiernan.

“The committee upheld the citing complaint, finding that Marchand had made contact with Buros’ head in a dangerous manner that warranted a red card. It then determined that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and six weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.


“There were no aggravating factors and taking into account the player’s clear disciplinary record and good conduct at the hearing, the committee reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a four-week suspension. Marchand is free to play on Monday, May 31.”


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