Richie Gray ban: Disquiet over inclusion of Argentine representative on disciplinary panel

The suspended Richie Gray will be replaced by his younger brother Jonny in Saturday’s autumn international against Argentina as the Scottish Rugby hierarchy mulls over its response to the former’s three-week ban.

Richie Gray, foreground, will be replaced by his younger brother Jonny, pictured behind him, when Scotland play Argentina. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Richie Gray, foreground, will be replaced by his younger brother Jonny, pictured behind him, when Scotland play Argentina. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The player has the right to appeal after being found guilty by an independent disciplinary committee of foul play by leading with his elbow in the defeat by New Zealand on Sunday. The incident wasn’t dealt with during the game but Gray was later cited.

It is understood that there is a degree of bewilderment at the inclusion on the disciplinary committee of an Argentine representative given the result of the hearing would have a material effect on the match this weekend.

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The panel, which met on Wednesday night and sat for over four and a half hours, was chaired by Shao-ing Wang of Singapore and also included former South African international Stefan Terblanche and the former Argentine referee Juan-Pablo Spirandelli.

Scottish Rugby is now awaiting the full written verdict before considering its next move but Gregor Townsend thinks an appeal is probably unlikely. “I don’t think so,” said the Scotland coach. “The timing’s not so great. We would take advice on that.

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“We all expected him to get off but we are not the judge in this. Accidents happen at ruck clears, accidents happen in tackles. Hamish [Watson] went off injured because he got his head caught on Jordie Barrett's hip. We believed [the Richie Gray incident] was an accident but the panel decided it was [worthy of] a red card.”

Scotland are adamant that there was no malicious intent as Gray caught Scott Barrett’s head with his elbow, leaving the New Zealand lock bleeding profusely.

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The Scotland forward’s ban will be reduced from three weeks to two if takes part in a “coaching intervention programme aimed at modifying techniques that contributed to the foul play”. That would allow him to return for Glasgow Warriors’ match against Zebre on December 3 but, as things stand, he will definitely miss Scotland v Argentina and Glasgow’s game with Leinster on November 26.

Townsend added: “I know Richie had no intent in his actions, he’s never been red carded or cited in his career.”

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The injured Watson is replaced by Jack Dempsey in the only personnel change to the Scotland team to play Argentina.

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