Leonard may face 30-day suspension

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Jason Leonard was last night cited for foul play by the Scottish Rugby Union. England's most-capped prop could be suspended for 30 days as a result of an alleged right-hander that left the Scotland captain, Rob Wainwright, groggy during the first half of Saturday's Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield.

Leonard, the 27-year-old captain of Harlequins, has missed only the World Cup game against Western Samoa last year since making the first of 48 appearances in 1990. Suspension would put him out of England's Triple Crown match against Ireland at Twickenham on 16 March.

First the evidence has to be weighed by the match commissioner, Jacky Laurans, who is now back home in France; then he will pass judgment. Under International Board regulations Leonard will be dealt with as if sent off, though it is hard to believe Derek Bevan would have applied the ultimate sanction had he or a touch-judge spotted the incident.

Indeed when Bevan did see Scott Hastings throw a punch in the second half he did no more than award England a penalty, and Wainwright himself said after the match: "It was just a wee stramash but nothing serious."

But last night the Scots issued this statement: "The SRU team management were fully aware of, and most concerned about, the incident yesterday evening but not until this morning was the full documentary evidence available. The citing has therefore been made. In addition to making the citing to the Five Nations' committee, the English management has also been informed."

The Rugby Football Union has one of its regular press briefings today when its attitude will be made clear. But after the Richard Dourthe affair, when a letter of complaint was despatched to the French federation after the centre had stamped on Ben Clarke's head in the France-England match in January, Twickenham is hardly in a position to complain.

Dourthe, though not formally cited, was subsequently suspended for two internationals by his own federation. Far worse was the punishment meted out to Peter Clohessy after he had been cited for stamping on Olivier Roumat's head when Ireland met France: a 26-week playing ban.

Comments