Finn Russell handed three-match ban after red card versus France

Stand-off will miss Racing 92's Champions Cup clash against Edinburgh on Sunday

Finn Russell has been banned for three matches. Image: Craig Watson© - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Finn Russell has been banned for three matches. Image: Craig Watson© - www.craigwatson.co.uk

FINN RUSSELL has been hit with a three-match ban following his red-carding during last Friday’s historic victory for Scotland over France.
 
That means he will not play for Racing 92 in Sunday’s Champions Cup clash against Edinburgh.

A statement issued by Six Nations said:

The Scotland fly half, Finn Russell, appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee via a Zoom call today. Mr Russell had received a red card in the match in the Guinness Six Nations Championship between France and Scotland on 26 March 2021 at the Stade de France in Paris. The red card had been issued for an infringement of Law 9.12 (A player must not physically or verbally abuse anyone. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, biting, punching, contact with the eye or eye area, striking with any part of the arm (including stiff-arm tackles), shoulder, head or knee(s), stamping, trampling, tripping or kicking), when, in the 70th minute of the match, Mr Russell ‘fended’ the France 15, Brice Dulin.

The Disciplinary Committee, which comprised Antony Davies (England), Olly Kohn (Wales) and Jamie Corsi (Wales), heard evidence and submissions from Mr Russell and his legal counsel (Bruce Caldow), as well as from Six Nations’ legal representative.

Mr Russell accepted that he had committed an act of foul play and that it had warranted a red card. However, he did not accept that he had ‘struck’ Mr Dulin and suggested that the foul play should have been categorised as an infringement of Law 9.24 (A ball-carrier is permitted to hand off an opponent provided excessive force is not used).

The Disciplinary Committee decided that Mr Russell’s actions had been properly categorised as striking with the arm under Law 9.12 and found the offence to warrant a mid-range entry point (six weeks).

The Disciplinary Committee identified no aggravating features. In terms of mitigation, the Disciplinary Committee gave credit for Mr Russell’s prompt acceptance that his actions had constituted foul play and been worthy of a red card, his disciplinary record, his attitude to the disciplinary process before and during the hearing, and his clear remorse (shown by his response to Mr Dulin on the pitch), and reduced the suspension by three weeks so that the final period of suspension is three weeks.

The Disciplinary Committee determined that the suspension should cover three matches to be played by Racing 92 in the EPCR Champions Cup and TOP14, respectively. Since one of those matches (in the EPCR Champions Cup on 11 April 2021) is contingent on the result of other matches, the suspension will end on either 18 April 2021 or 25 April 2021. Mr Russell will be free to play again on Monday, 19 April 2021 or Monday, 26 April 2021.

Mr Russell has a right of appeal.


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2304 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

16 Comments

  1. I think you should take another look at the downvoting on our comments and also give up on the mind reading which clearly isn’t one of your strong points.

    You asked a question and I answered it. It’s that simple.

  2. The panel should be made up of the captains of both teams (if the captain should be on trial then the vice captain) plus two non playing people.
    If they say this is lead by the players then let the players judge it along with the so called “experts”.
    I would trust all the captains to hold rugby value up to the highest level and then you have the other two who can decide as well by taking the actual playing captains perspective into account.
    This would be to me a more fairer trail than having the blazer boys decide everything from the word go.

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  3. Can’t disagree with anything said here…I am sick to the back teeth of this way of punishing players. It plays to the dilution of the integrity of the game. I have no issue with downright illegal or dangerous play being carded/suspended.

    But on this occasion it is Dulin who is at fault. His tackle attempt is high and dangerous. Russell is protecting himself. The elbow lands on the right shoulder, the forearm across the top of the chest and then slides to the throat as Dulin moves in. The young lads I coach would get 50 burpees if I saw that in training as a tackle attempt.

    The only one I can see throughout the competition that merited a straight red was O’Mahony. But he has previous, and is known to operate on the very fringes of the rules.

    I’d love to meet the panels that are deciding this and go through them for a short cut. Any argument they have can be torn to shreds in minutes.

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    • Absolutely Grant, you are correct, easily torn to shreds and coach and horses driven through their judgements, but not so long as the officials are allowed to abuse their position.
      It is a massive part of the problem that if you contest any aspect you get further punishment, I know of no more obvious a contravention to ‘Natural Justice’ than the conduct of the administration of the Laws by ANY of the panels.
      Natural Justice is to quote ‘Essentially, natural justice requires that a person receive a fair and unbiased hearing before a decision is made that will negatively affect them. The three main requirements of natural justice that must be met in every case are: adequate notice, fair hearing and no bias’.

      How can there be a fair hearing if you have to plead guilty in order to avoid an additional punishment?
      How can there be a lack of bias when there has NEVER as far as I am aware an on field refereeing decision rescinded?
      The only way it avoids the classic description of a Kangaroo Court is that it is officially convened, from there on it is I would suggest an abuse of position.

      Frankly this abuse of position should be questioned and the conduct of the hearing questioned with substantially more vigour, [from Unions (fat chance) or players Union] apart from anything else having made the game professional it is removing an individuals right to carry out his trade without recourse to ANY defence.

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  4. It’s infuriating that they to go to the trouble of arranging and holding a disciplinary committee only to then apply rigid interpretations rather than give due consideration to the specific circumstances of an incident.

    – The pictures clearly show the initial impact was on the upper chest rather than neck. This suggests the panel will not countenance the possibility of the officiating team having made a mistake.
    – Russell was fending with an open palm, not ‘striking’.
    – The incident only occurred due to the French player attempting to tackle way too high, which would have very likely led to him being penalised had Russell not instinctively raising an arm to protect himself. No mitigation for that?

    None of that appears to have been considered, and Russell is given the same ban Peter O’Mahony got for a far more grievous crime! The process and is a joke. I’m all for player safety being protected, but to tar all these incidents with the same rigid brush is wrong.

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  5. Think Finn Russell is absolutely correct. Seemed to be more of an accidental fend off than anything else. Rather than punish Russell for an accident the law makers in rugby might want to do something about the ridiculous attempted clearouts that go on, and the tackling beyond the ball.

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  6. It may not find favour with some reading this forum, [especially the length] but something has to be done about these Red Cards. A reasonable ‘hand/fend off’ to the upper chest that had no illegal intent with the obvious contributing factor of the [French] tackling player entering the tackle in an upright position effectively pulling Russell down should not be subject to such a draconian punishment: it was only then that the arm moved from upper chest to neck and that contributed to the incident and the Red Card shown to Russell.
    I would also draw attention to comments in other media from journalists, former International players, that criticised the interchange between the TMO and the Referee who they suggested had made up his mind and failed to look at all the alternative angles, or consider the cause and effect of the position of the French player being a contributory factor.
    In a recent game Bundi Acki was sent off with a Red Card specifically because he entered a tackle in an upright position and there was a collision of heads, Russell had every right to fend off what was a clumsy tackle. The French player just like the Bundi Acki incident went in to an attempted tackle in an upright position and because of his positioning came off worst as Russell was pulled down onto him and thereby causing the contact point to move up.
    This is becoming a farce, it’s a physical game and it is part and parcel of opting to play a physical game. World Rugby have introduced a Law that flies in the face of common sense when it comes to intent as opposed to unintentional contact and in all fairness should receive a lesser penalty and certainly not another 3 weeks or more if you dare to contest the Kangaroo Court. Why bother with a hearing? Why not just say Red Card plus 3 weeks? Why not? Because they attempt to make it appear that the system is a reasonable one and it clearly isn’t, stand your ground like Fagerson and get an extra week on the naughty step: ludicrous.
    It seems to me that World rugby are desperate to show unrealistic interpretations for supposed ‘player safety’ because they are petrified of Class or Group litigation. Perhaps the answer to avoid World Rugby altering the Laws and reducing the game to touch rugby is for a mandatory form at all levels of the game that says ‘ I know Rugby is a physical activity and with it carries the risk of injury, accidental or otherwise’.
    As for sustaining injury, the French player made the usual ‘Oscar’ nomination by clutching his throat as if Garotted and then continued to participate in the game as if nothing had happened, a bit like Wyn Jones.
    Another Referee/Doctor anomaly I would suggest was the right-winger Penaud who it would seem had a significant blow to the head judging from the amount of blood streaming from his nose but was not required to leave the field for an HIA, never mind the amount of blood, consistency is as usual a matter of debate, but not it seems within World Rugby and their officials.

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    • Difference was James Lang got up and played on. Don’t want to see players feign to be more hurt than they are but sadly the rewards of doing so are growing and the penalty for not drawing attention to an incident is that it doesn’t get looked at.

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    • Would a red card be enough for eye gouging then? That’s one of dozens of examples of when a red card is not enough.

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      • Obviously something like eye-gouging should be punished with a ban, but an act likes Finn’s (which at worst could be called mistimed and unfortunate with mitigating factors present) really shouldn’t.

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      • You interpreted my rhetorical question as saying why is a red card not enough for every single offence that could happen during a game, that is the stupid part. The comment was clearly referencing the fact that not every offence should merit a multiple game ban on top of the red card.
        From the upvote to downvote ratio most people seemed to understand and agree with this, so i can only assume you either 1. did not understand the question or 2. Decided to make a very generalised comment for the point of argument for arguments sake, i suspect the latter.

      • I think you should take another look at the downvoting on our comments and also give up on the mind reading which clearly isn’t one of your strong points.

        You asked a question and I answered it. It’s that simple.

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