Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Finn Russell Banned for 2 Weeks

Finn Russell and Glen Jackson - pic © Al Ross
Finn Russell and Glen Jackson - pic © Al Ross

Scottish Rugby today confirmed its intention to appeal the two-week suspension of stand-off Finn Russell by an independent Six Nations discipline committee.

Russell appeared before the panel at Heathrow, having been cited under Law 10.4 (e) and (i) for an alleged dangerous tackle of an opponent in the air, in the RBS 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales on Sunday (15 February) at BT Murrayfield.

The disciplinary committee determined that Russell had committed an act of foul play, which merited a red card, rather than the on-field yellow card given by the match officials.

It decided that the offence should be categorised under Law 10.4 (i), and the view of the discipline committee was that it was reckless, rather than deliberate.

The Committee considered it at the lower end of World Rugby’s scale of seriousness carrying a three-week suspension, but noted the absence of aggravating factors and the existence of certain mitigating factors, including the player’s clear disciplinary record, in applying a one-week reduction from the entry point.

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson, said:

“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.”

Judge for yourself:

28 Responses

  1. Banned for a dangerous tackle in the air even though no tackle was attempted and he tried to avoid a collision.

    1. You have to wonder what they’re trying to prove here. Would the outcome have been different if he’d clocked Davies but jumped a couple of inches up in the air anyway? Surely, that’s more dangerous?!

  2. Here’s a question, what kind of effect could this have on the lad’s confidence? Now to me, he seems a very self-assured guy but do you not think there could be a chance this could rock him a little bit?

    I hope it doesn’t obviously, and he’ll bounce back. I would say he could learn from it, but I’m not entirely sure what he can learn from this mess.

  3. Utterly ridiculous. It’s becoming a bit of a pisstake with these Welsh games. First Geoff Cross, then Stuart Hogg, now Russell. Cross was justified. Hogg was a bit touch and go. This is just utterly ludicrous. The Welsh chap jumped for it when he didn’t need to and Finn Russell was running in that direction already. To yellow card him for it, okay fair enough, but to give him a ban is excessive. I don’t see that happening for the Welsh player who tackled Bennett in the air.

    You’d almost think they were trying to get people carded, who’d have thunk it?

  4. The effect it will have is that the players will now be afraid to challenge for any high ball from a Garryowen or box kick. On slightly mistimes challenge and a complete accident = 2 weeks ban. They obviously have it in for the Scots.

  5. Yep agreed believing that that warranted a red is ridiculous, but as soon as he got cited there was going to be a ban-it’s rare that the panel disagrees with the citing panel. Thought it might happen in this case though.

  6. Here’s a question though-if Finn had stood his ground he would have received a face full of boot and knee. Under 10.4a (a) Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).
    Would that then have been a penalty to Scotland?!

      1. Dont think it would have been a penalty for Scotland. Seem to remember Hugo Southwell being sin binned after taking a boot in the face from Lee Byrne a few years back.

  7. Does anyone really think theres something more to the fact we get a lot of decisions, both at pro 12 and international level, against us? For what reason? We’re hardly at the top table. The 2 week ban is scandalous but are the wider problems down to the poor discipline that seems to have plagued us. While fighting the ban is one thing I dont want us to come across as whinging and a case of sour grapes. We’re trying to regain the lost repect from other countries, throwing our toys out the pram and looking like sore losers wont help us regain that respect.

  8. I am struggling to accept this ruling as being in any way serious.
    The wording of the ruling does not fit what happened, as there was no ‘dangerous tackle’ in the air.

    At the very least I hope this case nudges the IRB into looking afresh at the rules surrounding aerial clashes, as the wording of this clause is entirely unsuitable/innaccurate for cases such as this.
    The wording needs amending to more accurately reflect what happens in aerial competitions for the ball.

    There is a duty of care by both parties into any aerial incident, and ‘accidents do happen’ in a sporting environment.

    There is a suspicion that some players are using incidents like this as an opportunity to ensure that members of the opposition are sent from the pitch.
    Unsavoury, but more amd more common in the professional game.

    I would also question the number of times Dan Biggar is involved in incidents like this one.

  9. The coaches need to have a think how to deal with this. I suggest we don’t try to catch the ball but tackle the catcher the second he touches down. The catcher is likely to be on his own and isolated if we can get hands on the ball we should get the penalty for holding on.

    Finn Russell’s suspension is so rediculous the panel obviously would have been happier for him to jump in the air and get a knee in the face. Disgusted that it is permitted that boot or knee was going to be the first part of the body that was going to hit Russell so is a leading elbow, head also permitted. Anyone concerned about concussion!!!

  10. I’m astounded by this decision! Bad enough that the two clauses under which he was cited didn’t really hold any relevance to the incident, but had he not ducked he would have ended up with a concussion. Given the North incident the previous week, and the action taken over this one, it has to be questioned just how seriously they’re taking their campaign for concussion.

    Also, didn’t Biggar act recklessly by going forward and up for the ball rather than ensuring that he was underneath it before jumping?

    1. Agree very much with your last sentence, Blonde. As I’ve said on a different thread, the way this whole incident has been treated could well leave it open now for any attacking kick chaser – arms, legs and knees a-flailing – to launch himself recklessly into the air at no penalty risk to himself. More worryingly, if defenders back off now, the flying nutters will probably increase the risk of injuring themselves. Very surprising that an experienced panel could make such a decision. I think nearly all of us are trying to be objective here – to the extent that had the situation been reversed, we would be questioning the suspension of a Wales player.

  11. Just read both Scott Hastings and Andy Nicol condone the decision on twitter. At least they consistently both fail to back up Scottish rugby on Sky and the BBC respectively. Arguing Russell should jump. And what? Get a knee in the face?!! He’s only got eyes for the ball as Gregor Townsend has tweeted. Just because Gatland says it’s a red doesn’t make it so. Oh no I forgot in international rugby it does. We’re just little Scotland so anything goes. Utterly ridiculous decision.

    1. A bit odd, especially considering Jiffy and Martyn Williams have said the citing and ban is ridiculous.

    2. To stick up for Andy Nicol a bit here, from what I’ve read he’s not necessarily condoning the decision – I think he was more pointing out that by the letter of the law and with previous incidents, a ban was to be expected. I don’t remember seeing him say that it was the right decision, I could be wrong but I got the impression he was trying to be a bit more impartial? Just my take though.

      He’s also brought the Gethin Jenkins’ no arms clear out against Hogg to light on more than one occasion. The more you look at that incident the worse it gets. With out being overly dramatic, there could have been serious, serious damage done to Hogg as he was totally unaware of what was going on. I don’t think for a second Jenkins was trying to hurt him, he’s not a dirty player as far as I’m concerned, but I really think that needs to be looked out. There’s a great video of Sean O’Brian clearing out 3 guys at a ruck at the weekend, immense!

      1. Potentially I am being a little harsh on Andy Nicol, who as you point out highlights the ‘bowling ball’ incident, but I would like to see both him and Hastings fight our corner a bit more. Peter Wright might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s not afraid to call it as he sees it.

    3. I agree with McChin. Nicol is pointing out that there’s a flaw in the rules. Hastings, on the other hand, is being ridiculous and appears to be criticising Gregor Townsend’s coaching but there you go.

    4. Hastings and Nicol were great players to I stand by their comments. Finn could have challenged for the ball and would have probably avoided the penalty

  12. Riddle me this Batman

    Opposition put in an up and under. As a defender I judge where the ball is to land and position myself to take a fair catch. I am stationary and the ball will land in my arms if there is no outside intervention

    An attacking player chases the kick and leaps in the air while moving forward to take the ball above my head. Their knees hips and whatever else make contact with my head and body. They catch the ball but as a result of making contact with my stationary body they tumble and land on their head.

    What would the laws dictate the ref blew and why?

    and if Wyness happens to be around the correct answer is NOT penalty try to Wales :P

  13. There is no doubt that Scotland and more importantly Finn have been “done over” here with an incredibly poor decision – I do believe that the ban will stand. And it pains me to say I think part of this is because we are not heard at the top table and our voice doesn’t matter, we are a merely afterthought – If this is the case then I believe we should be turning this situation into something positive and strive to create a siege mentality, close ranks and that the lads start with real intensity and purpose against the Italians (fairly mind – watch those garryowens!)and carry this on for the reminder of the championship.


  14. I believe the whole thing is the wrong way round. Players are obviously coached/encouraged to jump for the ball at a catch. The photo of Brown the English full back which appeared in the Scotsman on Saturday shows him practising on his own about four feet in the air receiving a catch. So make such tactics illegal and restore the former law where a fair catch required both feet on the ground. This would also protect the tackler as mentioned above.

  15. Like Gregor Townsend’s twitter message!!! We are taught to keep our eyes on the ball not the player, Finn did this perfectly and then attempted to avoid a collision at the last second with a knee high flying Biggar coming at him… Where is the protection of the potential receiver, get KO’ed or worse killed by a knee to the face? It is a contact sport but there needs to be limits to dangerous play in both directions (offence and defence).

  16. The answer is to get Scottish players skilled in the air. Get a Gaelic Football/Aussie Rules coach involved and let’s move on

  17. Rocket hits the nail on the head – the sensible thing to do here is to revert back to the original law – players are not allowed to jump off the ground in an attempt to catch/receive a kicked ball.

    This would not only reduce liklihood of player injuries (priority 1) but would also make it less likely that games are ruined by penalty/yellow card/red card decisions which impact the outcome of a match.

    The law as it stands just now was intended to protect the jumper, but on the assumption that the jumper was the defender – it simply doesn’t cater for the scenario where an attacker sprints 30m chasing his own kick and launches at a stationary defender who has feet on the ground and eyes on the ball.

  18. It is almost a waste of time appealing this suspension. When would the case be heard? The squad preparation must be all over the place if they are planning with and without Finn Russell. A farcical situation from start to finish.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion