England centre Alex Lozowski has been banned from playing in the opening autumn international against South Africa after European Professional Club Rugby decided to extend his two-week suspension a further seven days following his inclusion in Eddie Jones’ squad.
The Saracens utility back was initially suspended for last Saturday’s European victory over Lyon as well as this weekend’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash with Leicester Tiger, having been found guilty of dangerously entering a ruck in the Champions Cup win over Glasgow Warriors the merited a red card.
But with Jones naming Lozowski in his 36-man squad – who convened today ahead of flying to Portugal for a week-long training camp – EPCR appealed the decision to an independent disciplinary committee who reviewed the situation and, despite England team manager Richard Hill claiming that they would release Lozowski to return for this weekend’s encounter, implemented an additional week’s suspension on the basis that releasing players from the training camp for a Cup match is not normally the action taken by the national team.
“The committee concluded that in the context of Lozowski’s suspension, Saracens’ Premiership Cup match against Leicester Tigers should not be regarded as one that the player would have been expected to play in on account of his England squad selection,” an EPCR statement read on Tuesday.
“It was therefore decided that Lozowski’s two-week period of suspension should take in Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup, round two match against Lyon, Saracens’ Premiership Cup match against Sale Sharks on Friday, 2 November and/or England’s international match against South Africa on Saturday, 3 November.”
Lozowski can still appeal the decision, though Saracens are yet to make a decision after being given three days for any response, but the case raises questions about the consistency of such decisions.
Last October Harlequins prop Joe Marler was given a three-week ban that was then extended by four days in order to include England’s second autumn international against Australia, given that the Anglo-Welsh match played the week before the autumn internationals began was not a match that Marler was expected to play in.
Marler appealed the decision given that he had been left out of Jones’ training squad – despite the reason for his omission being his suspension – and claimed that the Cup game should have been taken into account, which result in the additional four days being removed and making him free to play in the game against the Wallabies.
Around the same time, Wasps No 8 Nathan Hughes was banned for two weeks, but not given any additional time to take Anglo-Welsh matches into account even though he went to the England training camp. EPCR’s reasoning behind the differences in the bans was to say that “each disciplinary case is judged on its own facts and on the evidence presented”, but it once again puts the consistency of such decisions under scrutiny.
Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani will discover his disciplinary fate on Wednesday as he is due to appear at a hearing in Paris following his red card against Munster at the weekend.
The exiled England stand-off saw a bad week get far worse as his omission from the autumn international squad was followed two days later by receiving a straight sending-off for a high shoulder tackle to the head of Munster centre Rory Scannell in the 29th minute of Saturday’s encounter.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies