Finn Russell: Why Scotland fly-half was sin-binned in Six Nations defeat to Wales

Finn Russell was off the pitch at the Principality Stadium when Dan Biggar’s drop goal sent Wales 20-17 ahead with ten minutes to play in the Six Nations match.

What happened?

Wales crossed the line for a try but when the play was reviewed by the TMO video referee the score was ruled out. The match referee, Nick Berry, also asked for replay analysis of a previous incident when Scotland’s no.10 knocked the ball forward – but play continued with advantage to Wales.

Why was Finn Russell sent to the sin bin?

Finn Russell of Scotland leaves the field after he receives a yellow card for a knock on during the Guinness Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland at Principality Stadium on February 12, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Scotland’s playmaker was shown a yellow card for what was considered an intentional knock-on. He had led with one hand in an attempt to intercept the ball as Wales attacked.

World Rugby rules dictate: A player must not intentionally knock the ball forward with hand or arm. Sanction: Penalty.

However it adds “It is not an intentional knock-on if, in the act of trying to catch the ball, the player knocks on provided that there was a reasonable expectation that the player could gain possession.”

Russell led with his right hand but was not considered able to catch the ball when he made contact, despite his left arm rising. Therefore the ruling was a knock-on.

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What was his punishment?

After video analysis Russell was shown a yellow card for what was considered an ‘intentional knock-on’. The yellow card punishment is a ten minute sin-bin penalty when the player sits out. Russell returned with 30 seconds of the regulation 80 minutes to play.

What happened next?

Wales took advantage of Russell’s absence and Scotland’s numerical disadvantage to score a drop-goal through Biggar and hung on to win t20-17.

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