Scotland, struggling again in the Six Nations after two frustrating defeats, were plunged into an even darker mood when disciplinary chiefs slapped a two-week ban on the Glasgow outside-half Finn Russell, who will miss next week’s meeting with Italy as a result.
Russell’s offence at Murrayfield five days ago– pulling out of an aerial challenge with his Welsh opposite number Dan Biggar and causing him to fall heavily – was dealt with by a yellow card at the time, but was considered far more serious by tribunal members who met in London today.
They decided it was an act of foul play worthy of a full sending-off, despite accepting that the inexperienced Russell’s action was reckless rather than deliberate. The Scots, who felt they had good reason to believe the original punishment would be deemed sufficient, wasted no time in confirming their intention to appeal – a clear sign of their disgust with the outcome, although the language of their published response was more diplomatic. “We are disappointed,” said a spokesman for the governing body.
There was something slightly stronger from Russell’s club coach and predecessor in the Scotland No 10 shirt, Gregor Townsend. “I apologise to all those players I’ve coached in my career,” said the British & Irish Lions Test outside-half. “Keeping your eye on the ball equals a two-week ban.”
The France lock Pascal Papé, another man subject to an after-match citing after spending time in the cooler during it, will learn his fate today after the tribunal decided on an overnight adjournment.
Papé, yellow-carded for driving his knee into the back of Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, took to social media to apologise to the No 8, who ended up with three fractured vertebrae and may miss the rest of the tournament. Heaslip accepted the apology, via the same means.