FRANCE second-row Paul Gabrillagues has been banned for six weeks by World Rugby following a dangerous clear-out of Scotland flanker John Barclay at a ruck during Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice.
The 26-year-old appeared before an independent World Rugby disciplinary committee in London yesterday [Tuesday]. The panel viewed footage from various angles of the incident in which Gabrillagues allegedly made contact with the head of an opponent contrary to Law 9.20 – “a player must not charge into a ruck or maul”.
The Disciplinary Committee also considered the written evidence and listened to submissions by and on behalf of the player, in which Gabrillagues accepted that the alleged act did amount to foul play worthy of a red card.
The Disciplinary Committee deemed that the foul play was intentional, the offence took place at considerable pace and with considerable force to the opposition’s head such that the player sustained an injury.
The Committee determined that the act merited a top-end entry point which, according to World Rugby’s sanctions table within Regulation 17, carries a minimum 10-week suspension.
Having noted Gabrillagues’ early acknowledgement of guilt, his apology and expression of remorse to his opponent, and his good conduct at the hearing, the disciplinary committee reduced the 10-week entry point by 40 per cent, resulting in a sanction of six weeks.
Taking into account Gabrillagues’ playing schedule, the suspension will end at midnight on Sunday 6th October, after which time he is free to resume playing. The player has the right to appeal within 48 hours of receiving the written decision.
Gabrillagues’ place in France’s starting XV for this weekend’s return match against Scotland at Murrayfield has been taken by Felix Lambey, with Romain Taofifeuna coming onto the bench.
Taofifeuna is now likely to replace Gabrillagues in France’s Rugby World Cup squad, with the other locks being Sebastian Vahaamahina, Lambey and Arthur Iturria.
Barclay played on after the incident before being replaced in the 51st minute. He stated after the match that he had started to feel ill and thought he was going to be sick. “I’m fine now, it was just a nervous response,” he added. “It wasn’t a head knock, it was more a neck knock.”
The veteran flanker sat out of contact at training yesterday, but assistant coach Matt Taylor stated that he is not concussed and is expected to be available if required on Saturday, although it seems likely he will be rested so that the Scotland coaching team can have a better look at some his back-row rivals in the battle for selection to the World Cup squad.
France team to play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday (kick-off @ 1.10pm): Thomas Ramos (Toulouse); Damian Penaud (Clermont), Gaël Fickou (Stade Français), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Alivereti Raka (Clermont); Camille Lopez (Clermont), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse); Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Bègles), Guilhem Guirado (Montpellier) (c), Rabah Slimani (Clermont), Félix Lambey (Lyon), Sébastien Vahaamahina (Clermont), Arthur Iturria (Clermont), Charles Ollivon (Toulon), Grégory Alldritt (La Rochelle).
Replacements: Camille Chat (Racing 92), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Emerick Setiano (Toulon), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Yacouba Camara (Montpellier), Baptiste Serin (Toulon), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse).