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Thompson eyeing return after World Cup Final red card

By Ned Lester
Lydia Thompson of England evades a tackle to score a try during the Pool C Rugby World Cup 2021 New Zealand match between Fiji and England at Eden Park on October 08, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

63 days after receiving a red card in the Rugby World Cup final, England winger Lydia Thompson could finally suit up for her Worcester Warriors again in this weekend’s Allianz Premier 15s clash.

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The 47-cap international has been serving a three-match ban following her high tackle on New Zealand’s Portia Woodman. The 30-year-old appeared before an independent judicial committee nine days after the World Cup final, where she accepted the red card as fair and therefore faced a suspension with a minimum mid-range entry point of six matches.

That tally was reduced to three matches after the committee decided Thompson was entitled to the full mitigation available.

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The collision left Woodman with a concussion and the Black Ferns star has since admitted to having no memory of the game at all.

Thompson didn’t make any public comments on the incident but her coach Simon Middleton was inevitably asked about it at the game’s post-match press conference.

“She’s pretty upset as you can imagine,” Middleton said. “But you know Lydia is one of the best pros and one of the most beautiful people you will ever meet.

“So, she’s devastated, and she’s devastated for what happened to Portia as well, because they’ve had some unbelievable clashes between them over the last five, six, 10 years and that was taken away from the game, and neither one of them would have wanted that.

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“It’s just unfortunate, there’s no malice in it, it’s a clash of heads and it took possibly two of the best players in the world out of the game. But yeah, she’s pretty devastated about it, but she’ll be alright, we’ll get around her tonight like we’ll get around all the other players who are pointing the finger at themselves.

“There’s no fingers to be pointed at anybody; we came together, stand together, fall together. We’re definitely going to celebrate together.”

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Having missed the opening three matches of 2023, Thompson’s return will be a significant boost for the Warriors as the team currently sits seventh on the Premier 15s table having won two of their five games this season.

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The Worcester side will be looking to bounce back from a 52-5 loss to table-topping Gloucester-Hartpury, facing the bottom-of-the-table DMP Sharks.

The Warriors’ backs coach Sian Moore commented on the star wingers’ potential return.

“Lydia has been training fantastically,” Moore said on BBC Hereford and Worcester’s ‘Worcester Warriors Podcast’. “She has been professional throughout her ban and we have worked very closely with her.”

“Fingers crossed we should be able to see her in a Worcester shirt for the first time this season on Saturday.”

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