SCOTLAND second-row Richie Gray has been handed a three-match ban by an independent disciplinary panel for dangerous play in a ruck or maul during last Sunday’s loss to New Zealand meaning, he will miss Saturday’s final Autumn Test Series match against Argentina at Murrayfield.
The 33-year-old denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. However, having reviewed all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative, the panel deemed that on the balance of probabilities there was foul play in that the player had led with his elbow into the tackle area.
Applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, the panel determined that there was contact with the head and that the player had acted recklessly with a high degree of danger.
Having applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head of a six-match suspension, the panel took into into account mitigating factors, including the Gray’s previous disciplinary record and reduced the sanction by half.
The independent disciplinary committee was chaired by Shao-ing Wang (Singapore), joined by former international Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) and former international referee Juan-Pablo Spirandelli (Argentina).
Gray will also miss Glasgow Warriors’ URC matches against Leinster on 26th November and Zebre on 3rd December. However, he can apply to take part in a Coaching Intervention Programme aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play to earn a one-week reduction in the sanction.
Gray’s place in Scotland’s starting fifteen on Sunday is likely to be taken by younger brother Jonny, with Edinburgh’s Glen Young coming onto the bench, but uncapped Saracens second-row Callum Hunter-Hill could be a surprise selection having been called into Scotland’s training squad for the first time earlier this week. Sam Skinner and Scott Cummings are both unavailable due to injury.
The player has the right of appeal within 48 hours of the issuing of the full written decision.
The Scotland team to face Argentina will be announced tomorrow afternoon, with Gregor Townsend’s side looking to revenge last summer’s 2-1 series defeat to the Pumas. A victory would also mean that Scotland finish the Autumn with a 50 percent winning record and some valuable momentum heading into the Six Nations in the New Year.