Three-week ban adds to the pain for Warburton - International - Rugby Union - The Independent

Three-week ban adds to the pain for Warburton

Captain misses play-off as Lièvremont slams France's 'spoilt brats' for defying booze ban

No mercy. Not much, anyway. Sam Warburton, the Wales captain, was yesterday banned for three weeks for the tip-tackle on the French wing Vincent Clerc that resulted in his dismissal during the first World Cup semi-final at Eden Park – an incident that led directly to the Red Dragons' one-point defeat. Those who felt Warburton might have escaped with 10 minutes in the cooler will be doubly distressed that he now misses Friday's bronze medal match with Australia at the same venue.

Widely considered to be among the half-dozen outstanding performers at this tournament, the Cardiff Blues flanker might have received a six-week ban, which would have prevented him playing in the opening two matches of his club's Heineken Cup campaign. His offence was judged to be in the "mid-range" category, which carries a minimum six-week suspension. However, Christopher Quinton QC, the judicial officer from England, gave him credit for admitting hitting Clerc with a dangerous tackle, his expression of remorse and his "outstanding character and disciplinary record", halving the punishment as a consequence.

That gesture will be of no comfort to the Welsh squad, who, to a man, stood by their captain in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's events and were equally supportive of him yesterday. But the outcome of the judicial hearing was broadly in line with previous punishments dished out as a result of the International Rugby Board's increasingly strong line on what it considers perilous forms of tackling.

The Tongan wing Sukanaialu Hufanga copped five weeks for a tip-tackle in the match against France – again on Clerc, who appears to be what might be called a serial tippee – while one of Les Bleus' own backs, Fabrice Estebanez, was suspended for three weeks for a similar assault on the lock Joe Tuineau in the same game. In addition, the Fijian flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu was banned for three weeks after dropping the South African full-back Patrick Lambie to the ground while Lekso Gugava, the Georgian wing, was given five weeks for a spear tackle on the Argentina captain, Felipe Contepomi.

There was not a vast amount of sympathy from the French camp yesterday. "I think it was a fantastic rugby league tackle," said Dave Ellis, who made a playing career for himself in the 13-a-side code before building a big reputation as Les Bleus' defence strategist. "Unfortunately, we are not playing rugby league – we are playing rugby union. As soon as I saw it, I thought it was a sending-off." For his part, the finalists' head coach, Marc Lièvremont, told his audience that he had "a great time watching it again", adding: "People can talk about injustice, but I have seen the footage and the red card is justified. The referee was consistent."

Lièvremont, his relations with his players never entirely satisfactory at this tournament, had another of his interesting days, tearing strips off some of his charges for defying an instruction not to celebrate in a liquid fashion after their semi-final victory. "I went to bed in a bad mood because I'd asked the players not to go out, so we spoke about it this morning and I told them what I thought of them," he said, an enigmatic smile on his face throughout the address. "I told them they are a bunch of spoilt brats: undisciplined, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whingeing. It's been like this for four years. It seems to be our way of functioning. I also told them I have a lot of affection for them, but it's a shame they don't look after themselves."

Having participated as a flanker in the fraught 1999 campaign, when France also reached the final despite stresses and strains between coaches and players, Lièvremont reminded his players that on that occasion, the week of celebration at beating the All Blacks in a sensational semi-final cost Les Bleus dear when the even bigger contest came around. "I don't want us to relive this same thing," he remarked, meaningfully.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week