Scotland legend Peter Wright questions Gray and Ford bans

Peter Wright believes Ross Ford and Jonny Gray were unlucky to be hit with bans. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Peter Wright believes Ross Ford and Jonny Gray were unlucky to be hit with bans. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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FORMER Scotland prop Peter Wright claims World Rugby need to show greater consistency in the way they hand out punishments after Ross Ford and Jonny Gray were controversially ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup.

The Dark Blues pair were each given three-week bans for an illegal two-man tip tackle on Samoa’s Jack Lam which dumped the flanker on his head.

Wright, with his arms raised, celebrates David Hilton's try for Scotland against Wales in March 1995. Picture: Allsport/Getty

Wright, with his arms raised, celebrates David Hilton's try for Scotland against Wales in March 1995. Picture: Allsport/Getty

They will now miss out on the Scots’ first quarter-final clash in eight years on Sunday when they face Australia at Twickenham and will play no further part even if Vern Cotter’s team progresses.

Independent judicial officer Christopher Quinlan QC was the man who decided the Scots’ fate after deciding their tackle had been at the “low end” of the disciplinary scale.

But Wright is unhappy that South Africa’s JP Pietersen was not punished despite the winger carrying out a similar offence during the Springboks’ win over Scotland two weeks ago.

Former British and Irish Lion Wright - who sits on the Scottish Rugby Union’s disciplinary panel - told said: “The result didn’t surprise me.

The Ford/Gray case is not the worst one in the world and when compared to the O’Brien case, where he has thrown a deliberate punch, then it does look a bit unfair on the Scottish boys

Peter Wright

“World Rugby want the unions to stamp down on those kind of challenges where players’ legs are above the horizontal and the head and neck end up making contact with the ground.

“So when I saw the tackle involving the Scottish lads I thought straight away that it could end up in a ban.

“The citing officer did his job because all he has seen is a tackle that falls under the guidelines he’s supposed to watch out for and then reported it. But what concerns me is the inconsistency of the other cases.

“JP Pietersen was guilty of a tip tackle on Tim Swinson when Scotland played South Africa and he got nothing. Nigel Owens was the ref that day and was going on about how it wasn’t malicious.

“But I’m sorry. Malicious intent is a matter of the mind, so how he can possibly read Pietersen’s mind I don’t know.”

Ford and Gray were hauled in front of Quinlan on Tuesday morning but had to wait 11 hours for a decision.

To rub salt into their wounds, Sean O’Brien of Ireland received a mere one week suspension despite landing a punch into the stomach of France’s Pascal Pape.

Wright said: “For me, that was a premeditated punch. It wasn’t reckless, it was deliberate so you would think that punch would get a longer ban.

“But because they are working to guidelines the guys making the decisions are limited in what they can hand out.

“This all comes from a few years back when there was massive inconsistencies in what the unions around the world would be handing out for similar offences.

“The Ford/Gray case is not the worst one in the world and when compared to the O’Brien case, where he has thrown a deliberate punch, then it does look a bit unfair on the Scottish boys. Unfortunately common sense does not seem to come into it.

“There just doesn’t seem to be that consistency across the board.”

Wright believes the loss of the two key forwards has delivered a “massive blow” to Scottish hopes of upsetting the Aussies in London.

A spokesman for the Dark Blues say they are “considering” their options but Wright believes there is little point appealing.

He said: “It depends on what they are appealing. You can’t use evidence which you have already put forward in the original case when you appeal so I suppose the only thing they could do is challenge the sentence.

“They might get a week knocked off but there is no way they will be playing this Sunday.

“I know Chris Quinlan well and unless he got it wrong by the letter of the law - and Chris is a QC and rugby man - then I don’t think we’ll see them again this tournament.

“Losing both Ross and Jonny is a massive blow. My heart always backs Scotland to win but after this my head is saying it will be Australia in the semi-finals.”