Rugby Union: Woodward hits back at citing system after Vickery is banne d

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The Independent Online
PHIL VICKERY, England's debutant tight-head prop, did enough during Saturday's runaway victory over Wales to suggest that a long and fruitful international career is his for the taking, writes Chris Hewett. Unfortunately, he also did enough to Colin Charvis, the Swansea flanker, to earn himself a 30-day suspension - a ban that ensures he will miss next month's Calcutta Cup match in Edinburgh.

Vickery was cited by the Welsh management for walloping Charvis early in the second half. Peter Boyle, the match commissioner from Ireland, decided the Gloucester youngster was indeed culpable and promptly imposed a suspension in line with the recommended sentence for punching offences.

Clive Woodward, the England coach, had no option but to accept the decision, but he could not resist aiming a haymaker of his own at the citing system. "There is no justice here because the punishment does not fit the crime," he fumed. "The whole structure is unbalanced and ridiculous; if the referee had seen the offence, Phil would have received a yellow card at worst. He does not deserve a month."

Woodward personally suspended Martin Johnson for punching an All Black before Christmas and has since lost Kevin Yates, his promising loose-head prop, as a result of the London Scottish ear-biting kerfuffle. Yesterday, he reiterated that England would cite an opponent only for "an obvious sending-off offence or something really malicious".

Vickery, meanwhile, was philosophical in the extreme. "I feel hard done by but I've got to get on with it," he said.

At least one Gloucester colleague will understand how he feels. Gareth Chilcott, now marketing manager at Kingsholm, landed himself in hot water on his England debut in 1984 by thumping Nick Farr-Jones, the Australia scrum-half, in full view of the television cameras.

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