RWC23: Zander Fagerson suspended but set to return for World Cup opener

Tight-head prop must complete a Coaching Intervention Programme in order to face South Africa

Zander Fagerson was red carded for the second time in his international career against France last Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Zander Fagerson was red carded for the second time in his international career against France last Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

ZANDER FAGERSON will be available to play in the opening match of Scotland’s World Cup campaign against South Africa on 10th September if he completes a ‘Coaching Intervention Programme’.

The tight-head prop was suspended for three matches after being sent-off for a dangerous clear-out during Scotland’s win over France at Murrayfield last Saturday, which initially takes in the team’s two remaining World Cup warm-up matches against France in St Etienne this Saturday and Georgia at Murrayfield a fortnight later (26th August) as well as the South Africa game.

However, the panel’s judgement concluded that: “The Player will take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his/her sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”


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A Scottish Rugby statements said:

Scotland prop, Zander Fagerson, appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.20 (a) (Dangerous play in a ruck or maul. “A player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.”) in the Summer Nations Series match between Scotland and France on Saturday 5th August 2023.

The independent Judicial Committee consisting of Rhian Williams – Chair (Wales), Jamie Corsi (Wales) and Juan Pablo Spirandelli (Argentina) heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representatives.

In considering submissions made on behalf of the player, the Committee agreed to amend the offence to Law 9.20 (b) (Dangerous play in a ruck or maul. A player must not make contact with an opponent above the line of the shoulders.)

The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play under the revised Law and that it was worthy of a red card. After reviewing all the evidence, the Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a four week suspension.

Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s admission at the earliest opportunity, his remorse which was conveyed to the French player as well as shown during the hearing, and accepting that there were no aggravating factors to consider, the Committee reduced the four week entry point by one week, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):

Summer Nations Series:
12 August 2023 France v Scotland
26 August 2023 Scotland v Georgia
Rugby World Cup
10 September Scotland v South Africa

The Player will take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his/her sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.


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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

27 Comments

  1. Always liked the Welsh 😂 Now if Finn, Ritchie Gray and Schoeman could just be banned until before the SA game too!

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  2. Worry of it for me is that if you look at it, the ball is secure, the French lad isn’t really challenging for it, ZF comes from some way out so can see these two things, but still comes flying in straight at a stationary head …..

    How do you change that behaviour?

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  3. Respectfully suggest that Zander F makes a public apology. His mistake, however you read its importance.
    We all need to know that he understands the impact of such things and that it lets down everybody – self, family, team mates, fans and the country.

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  4. He’s been very lucky, but I’d have been quite comfortable if he’d been banned for the SA game and WP had started instead. Still am should Gregor decide that’s the way to go

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  5. He is not playing against SA. Ban covers the first game of RWC.

    He is very lucky – clearly his perfect disciplinary record help him. Ever get the feeling they make it up as they go along.

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    • No Chris, the entry level is a 4 game ban, reduced to 3 for remorse, contrition etc. It is further reduced to 2 if he attends the early learning centre for tackle technique
      Hope he’s got that date pencilled in his diary…

      • Isnt it odd Ed. send Tandy with him because by that logic none of the other forwards know how to safely clean out or tackle. world rugby eh!?

      • Exactly Teej – but there again knowing the laws and adhering to the laws are not always one and same….

  6. Who’s a lucky boy then! Get yourself down that training centre son and jump through whatever daft hoop they ask you to before they change their minds. Luckily the powers that be want as full a deck as possible going into their showpiece event. Otherwise it might have been a different story. The nation breathes a collective sigh of relief!

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  7. In true SRU fashion i now expect him not to be named in the RWC squad and they fly in Euan Murray as replacement

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  8. There’s no rhyme or reason to the process and it just seems to come down to the luck of the draw on how quickly they get together and who you get on the panel (unlike the Gilchrist farce). He’s a lucky lad but the decisions been made and we’ve benefited from once.

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  9. The inconsistencies in the disciplinary process are indeed a joke and undermine the credibility of the sport – however – not often that we get the rub of the green in those circumstances, so more than happy that we have in this occasion and relieved that he’s there to face the Boks!

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  10. Just highlights how the outcome of a panel review depends on who is on the panel for the hearing…and how people interpret laws differently.

    Lucky boy!

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    • Yeah first time in a while that there isn’t a participant from a nation that would benefit from a longer ban. One of many issues that the process needs to look at. Always looks bad for participants if they cannot be seen to be neutral no matter how much integrity the individual has.Rare we are on the beneficial side of it though.

  11. Yep Zander (and Scotland) dodged a bullet there, the only mitigation I could see was that he did appear to bind onto another player in the ruck so perhaps couldn’t be described as “charging” in. By the letter of the law that is, looked like he charged in by any other description.

    Still as a Scotland fan, I’m mighty glad he’s available to face SA.

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    • He is not playing against SA. Ban covers the first game of RWC.

      He is very lucky – clearly his perfect disciplinary record help him. Ever get the feeling they make it up as they go along.

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  12. Disciplinary process is farcical , how you can get less for a second almost identical offence particularly when the second offence was worse is beyond me. Between this decision and the Sexton sanction it just highlights the lack of consistency and how the pedigree of the player impacts on the integrity of the panel and ultimately the sanction given.

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    • As the statement has made clear it is not the same offence. Reason being that in the recent incident Fagerson had a proper bind, rather than charged into the ruck without a bind. So there was dangerous play because of the head impact but it is a less serious charge S there is a clear attempt to enter the ruck legally, unlike with a charge.

      I really don’t understand why some people are getting so hysterical – it was a clumsy attempt at a clear out but was at a low speed and low impact. The player was uninjured and did not even require a HIA assessment. It is being blown out of all proportion.

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    • Not sure how to interpret your Sexton comment – anyone yelling at and trying to intimidate the officials is against everything rugby stands for – for me he should have been banned for at least 3 months and the idiot SA coach for life.

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      • “Hysterical” – total hyperbole. However the reason contributors are questioning Fagerson is because he is a complete liability in both giving away needless penalties and the occasional red mist which is likely to result in a red card. No international rugby team can afford to carry that liability. It was an absolute miracle that we won on saturday with 14 men. He should now be told unequivocably hes on 3 strikes and you are out. One more similar transgression and he’s binned. Lets hope we never see another inch of column on this subject.

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  13. Agree he is a very lucky boy but is a joke really when the player gets less than he got for doing the same thing first time round. Coaching intervention, what a lot of nonsense and the rules seem to be made up as they go along. So we have a player who has commited the same offence twice and he has not really been punished at all. I like many others think that he is a liability and his play in the loose does not offset the critical penalties he gaves away every game and he will be on all the referees radars hat is for sure.

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  14. Very lucky boy-If not a RWC in sight I think it would have been more severe penalty given his previous

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