SCOTLAND lock forward Lewis Carmichael has been given a nine-week ban for foul play at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy.
The Melrose player will miss the remainder of the tournament as well as the start of the domestic season as a result of the suspension which was handed down for a contravention of Law 10.4(m) – “an act contrary to good sportsmanship – contact with the eye or eye area” – during Scotland’s defeat by Ireland on Saturday.
Carmichael is the second Scotland player to receive a ban at the tournament following Archie Russell’s two-game suspension for a dangerous tackle in the opening match against New Zealand.
Carmichael attended a disciplinary hearing in Brescia on Monday before judicial officer Antony Davies of England.
The Scottish Rugby Union will wait for the written judgment on Carmichael before deciding whether to appeal. A spokesman for the SRU said: “We are disappointed by the outcome of yesterday’s [Monday’s] hearing, and the subsequent suspension of lock Lewis Carmichael. Appeal options may be considered following a review of the written judicial report.”
The offence isbelieved to have happened in a maul but Scotland under-20 head coach Sean Lineen insists it was not deliberate.
“It’s a shame for the lad. It was accidental,” saidLineen, whose team face Argentina in Calvisano today. “However, we can’t start moaning and groaning. We just have to move on and look at how we can take on Argentina.
“We still have the chance of achieving a place in the middle group if we become the first Scotland under-20 team to beat Argentina. We showed tremendous strength and character by coming back against Ireland. But we need to do that from the start. This is a young group of players, and they’re not used to playing in the heat. We will take on a very good Argentina team who are all very mature. But it’s a chance to find out how tough we are mentally and physically,” suggested Lineen.
The heavy sanction meted out to Carmichael reflects how seriously World Rugby takes eye-related transgressions. Former Scotland international referee Jim Fleming explained: “That usually refers to gouging of some form or another. Basically you can’t put your hands near an opponent’s eye.”
Thus far in the World Under-20 Championship there have been four players asked to attend disciplinary hearings, two from Scotland, one from Samoa and one from New Zealand. Samoan hooker Elia Elia received a two-match ban for a “dangerous” tackle but no sanction was applied to Junior All Black Luteru Laulala for “tackling a player in the air” in New Zealand’s match against Argentina last Saturday.
Just how hard a match this will be for the young Scots was shown by the performance of “Los Pumistas” against New Zealand on Saturday which resulted in a narrow 32-29 win for the Junior All Blacks thanks to a last-minute penalty. Specifically today’s match will be a test for the Scotland forwards who face an Argentina pack that has become a try-scoring machine.
Scotland must improve on making use of any possession they secure while cutting out the handling errors that cost them dear against Ireland on Saturday.
In the absence of Carmichael, Neil Irvine-Hess, who did a good shift at blindside flanker against Ireland, moves to the lock position while Lewis Wynne and Ally Miller return to the side in the back row on either side of skipper Magnus Bradbury. Behind the scrum, under-18 caps Robbie Nairn and Blair Kinghorn continue at wing and full-back respectively.
Scotland U20 (v Argentina under-20, today, Calvisano, 4:30pm BST, live on BT Sport 2):
B Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); R Nairn (Harlequins), A Coombes (London Scottish), P Kelly (Le Parc), R Galloway (University of Birmingham); R Hutchinson (Northampton Saints), B Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College); M McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby), S James (Bedford Blues), Z Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), S Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), N Irvine-Hess (Melrose), A Miller (Edinburgh Rugby/Watsonians), L Wynne (Stirling County), M Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby).
Substitutes R Graham (Hawick), D Elkington (Watsonians), J Owlett (Exeter University), A Davidson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), R Knott (Melrose), G Horne (Glasgow Hawks), R Smith (Currie), J Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby).