FORMER Wales captain Martyn Williams has described as “shocking” the decision to upgrade Scotland stand-off Finn Russell’s yellow card to a red and ban the player for two weeks.
The Scottish Rugby Union swiftly indicated it will appeal the decision of the Six Nations disciplinary panel which would see the Glasgow playmaker miss the next championship match against Italy at BT Murrayfield a week on Saturday.
The 22-year-old was handed a three-week ban, reduced by a week for his clean record, after appearing before the panel in London yesterday.
Disciplinary officers judged his tackle on Dan Biggar in Sunday’s slender 26-23 defeat to Wales to be “reckless rather than deliberate”.
Russell collided with Biggar as his Wales counterpart leapt for a high ball during the first half at BT Murrayfield at the weekend. Kiwi referee Glen Jackson sin-binned Russell, but a Six Nations disciplinary committee ruled the offence warranted a red card.
Williams, who was a pundit in the BBC studio for Sunday’s game, said on Twitter: “Shocking decision....people making decisions who have no empathy for the game...”
Russell’s club coach, Gregor Townsend, also commented sardonically on social media. “I apologise to all those rugby players that I have coached in my career. Keeping your eye on the ball = 2 week ban,” tweeted the former Scotland and Lions stand-off.
The Six Nations statement read: “The committee decided the offence was reckless rather than deliberate...[and[ considered it at the lower end of World Rugby’s scale of seriousness, carrying a three-week suspension.”
The SRU responded: “We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s discipline committee meeting, and subsequent suspension of stand-off Finn Russell. Following the arrival of the written sanction later this week, we intend to appeal.”