SCOTLAND prop Zander Fagerson will play no further part in this season’s Six Nations after being handed a four-match ban following his sending off during Saturday’s narrow defeat to Wales at Murrayfield.
The suspension means he will miss the games against France away on 28th February, Ireland and Italy at home on 14th and 20th March respectively, and one other match to be determined.
The tight-head prop appeared before a Six Nations disciplinary panel this [Tuesday] evening to answer a charge related to his shoulder making contact with opposite number Wyn Jones’ head as he cleared out a ruck in the 54th minute of Saturday’s match.
Fagerson accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but did not accept that it warranted a red card.
The panel, which comprised David Hurley (Ireland), Becky Essex (England) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa), decided that the offence had warranted a red card with a mid-range entry point of six matches’ suspension, which was reduced by two matches to take account of mitigating factors including his admission of foul play, good disciplinary record and remorse.
Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony received a three-match reduction on his six-match ban after he faced an identical charge the previous week, which is bound to cause consternation amongst Scottish rugby fans, who will want to know why Fagerson’s punishment is more severe.
The answer to that is not clear at the moment, but may relate to the judgement in O’Mahony’s case noting that “the player did not seek to challenge the referee’s decision” by accepting that the offence had merited a red card. The panel also “accepted that there were no off-field aggravating factors” in O’Mahony’s case while there was no mention of this consideration in Fagerson’s judgement.
A statement from Six Nations said:
The Scotland No.3, Zander Fagerson, appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee via a Zoom call today. Mr Fagerson had received a red card in the match in the Guinness Six Nations Championship between Scotland and Wales on 13 February 2021 at BT Murrayfield. The red card was issued for an infringement of Law 9.20(a) (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) and 9.20 (b) (a player must not make contact with an opponent above the line of the shoulders), when, in the 64th minute of the match, he made contact with the Wales prop forward, Wyn Jones.
Mr. Fagerson accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, but did not accept that it warranted a red card.
The Disciplinary Committee, which comprised David Hurley (Ireland), Becky Essex (England) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa), heard evidence and submissions from Mr Fagerson, the Scotland head coach, Gregor Townsend, and legal counsel, Bruce Caldow (as well as from Six Nations’ legal representative). The Disciplinary Committee found that Mr Fagerson had committed an act of foul play (an infringement of Law 9.20(a) and that it had warranted a red card.
The Disciplinary Committee found that the act of foul play warranted a mid-range entry point (six weeks’ suspension) and reduced that by two weeks to take account of mitigating factors (including his admission of foul play, good disciplinary record and remorse). Mr Fagerson is therefore suspended for four weeks and, given his playing schedule, he will miss the three Scotland matches in the Guinness Six Nations Championship against France, Ireland and Italy, and one further match to be determined. He was reminded of his right of appeal.