Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have both been thrown out of the Rugby World Cup for dangerous tackling after receiving three-week bans on citation by the tournament’s judicial panel last night.
Edinburgh hooker Ford, from Kelso, and Glasgow lock Gray were cited by independent commissioner Scott Nowland of Australia for a second-half incident during the 36-33 Pool B win over Samoa at St James’ Park.
Nowland’s report was upheld by the independent Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC of England and both players have now been ruled out of Sunday’s quarter-final against Australia at Twickenham and any subsequent games in the tournament.
The players denied committing an act of foul play at yesterday’s hearing and have 48 hours to appeal. A Scotland team spokesperson said last night: “We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s discipline hearing, and subsequent suspension of Ross Ford and Jonny Gray.
“We will consider carefully the full written judgment of Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC before making a decision on any future action.”
Gray and Ford were involved in a tackle on Samoa’s Jack Lam and it has been deemed that their actions were contrary to a 2009 memorandum from the sport’s governing body which covered “tackles involving a player being lifted off the ground and tipped horizontally and then either forced or dropped to the ground”.
Judicial Officer Quinlan deemed the offences merited four weeks but added one week for aggravation “due to the need to deter this type of dangerous foul play”. The World Rugby statement added: “Taking into account mitigating factors including the players’ conduct prior to and at the hearing, their expressions of regret, exemplary characters and excellent disciplinary records, the Judicial Officer reduced the suspension to a period of three weeks.”
The loss of first-choice lock Gray and Scotland’s most capped forward Ford is a huge blow to head coach Vern Cotter ahead of this weekend’s last-eight clash with the Wallabies and the fact that the citing commissioner who made the complaint is from Australia is likely to remain a controversial talking point. Fraser Brown and Kevin Bryce provide cover at hooker but Scotland’s resources in the second row are thin after the loss of Grant Cilchrist following the second pool match against United States. Cotter opted then to replace the injured Edinburgh lock with flanker Blair Cowan, leaving Tim Swinson as the only specialist to partner Jonny’s brother Richie in the engine room, with potential cover coming from back-rowers David Denton and Josh Strauss.