Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Russell Still Banned – Search For a 10 Resumes

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

After a protracted delivery process for the official sanction against Finn Russell and an instant response from the SRU, the appeal of Finn Russell was heard today at London Heathrow before an independent Six Nations Appeal Committee, chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC (England), together with Jean-Noel Couraud (France) and Mike Rafter (England).

The Scotland outside half appealed against the finding by an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee that he had committed an act of foul play under law 10.4(i) of World Rugby’s laws of the game in the RBS 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales on 15 February 2015 and consequently given a two-week suspension.

The Appeal Committee, having considered submissions on behalf of the player and on behalf of the Six Nations Disciplinary Officer, dismissed the appeal with the result that the original sanction of a two-week suspension stands, with Finn Russell able to return to play on 2 March 2015.

Law 10.4(i): Tackling the jumper in the air. A player must not tackle nor tap, push or pull the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball in a lineout or in open play.

The decision leaves Scotland searching for a new standoff for Saturday with Greig Tonks and Pete Horne the most likely candidates and Greig Laidlaw and Stuart Hogg less likely options. With Tonks rested for Edinburgh and Horne playing for Glasgow in their win over Ospreys, could that give an insight into Vern Cotter’s thought process?

In other disciplinary news, Glasgow’s Leone Nakarawa has been banned for 3 matches for an act deemed worthy of a red card (striking another player with his head in a ruck), but considered to be at the low end of World Rugby’s sanctions, carrying an entry-point of 4 weeks. The Committee found that there were no aggravating factors, and, taking into account mitigating factors including the player’s unblemished record, the Committee reduced the entry point by one week and imposed a three week suspension.  The player is suspended from playing for three weeks until midnight on Sunday 29 March 2015, taking into account two “down” weeks, and has the right of appeal.

27 Responses

  1. whilst I’ve posted previously about the need to not underestimate Italy, if there’s one game where we could try a new 10 then it’s this one, in my opinion. I’d rather go into this sans Russell than England or Ireland that’s for sure.

    Abyway, mental decision in my opinion and pretty shoddy it’s been left so late but there you go.

    Horne for me. We need to find our 3rd choice 10 for the WC, assuming Weir will act as backup (and I’m not convinced of Jackson still, or aware of his injury situation to be honest). Horne could at least have the familiarity of Dunbar, Bennett and Hogg as well as maybe Maitland and Seymour to ease any potential nerves. Just my thoughts!

  2. Yeah I agree with Neil, he makes a great point but always seems to get shouted down by everyone. Anyway Italy game is a farce , I believe it shouldn’t even be played. It’s pathetic really the Italy team is made up of sa exiles. Stop pickin on Neil I’m a nice guy really lol


    1. Interesting comment and I’m glad that someone agrees with me about the Italy game being a farce, even if it was removed for being off topic. On the topic of of Russels ban, I dont think it will mmake much difference against Italy as we should beat them without him. Lets just hope he is back for the ‘real’ games against Ireland and England.

      1. Neil, it is painfully obvious that you have posted under Tallnstrong and Big Man in order to agree with your own posts and shout abuse at other posters.

        If it is any consolation this post from Tallnstrong was probably your best post yet.

        Look, I think probably 95% of Scottish fans expect us to beat Italy. The other 5% probably just think Scotland can always find a way to heap ignominy on themselves. I think we should win by at least two clear scores and have the potential to win bigger.

        But that doesn’t win Italy won’t be competitive and doesn’t mean we should write them off. Would the 6N really be improved by dropping a team and letting one side get an extra rest and preparation before a game? Could a tournament as unbalanced as that really be credible under professionalism nowadays? Wasn’t it awesome when Italy beat Ireland and France? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if they can beat Wales again in Rome? They may be the weakest 6N side but I think we’d lose a huge amount if they were kicked out.

      2. No I am not Tallnstrong or Big Man or anyone else that you think I may be. sorry to dissapoint you that there are people who actually agree with my viewpoint

      3. The problem is that Italy really need to find a way of improving. They consistently finish 6th in the 6 nations and get an odd win from time to time but that is very much a rarity. My own feeling is that a two tier European League system would be far better with promotion/relegation. However, very few fans seem to favor that option.

      4. Neil – surely that same criticism could be levelled at us?

        “The problem is that *Scotland* really need to find a way of improving. They consistently finish *5th* in the 6 nations and get an odd win from time to time but that is very much a rarity.”

        I agree that Italy need to improve and Georgia need more exposure, but I don’t think a two tier European cup is the answer.

        Those that advocate it seem to assume that it will always be one of Scotland or Italy being relegated – let’s not forget that France came last in 2013.

        The 6 Nations is Rugby Box Office. Considering that the TV companies and sponsors largely control the strength of the 6Ns, why would they fork out so much cash to watch England v Georgia instead of England v France? I fear that relegation/promotion to the 6Ns would do more harm to the competition than good; and I’m not convinced that a 5 Nations would any more competitive or exciting.

        For the time being, keep the 6Ns as it is, and leave it to World Rugby to get Georgia sorted with more Autumn/Summer tests against bigger nations. If they truly start challenging and improving, then there *could* be argument to increase the tournament to the 7Ns in 5/10 years time. But for now, I’m happy the way it is. Besides, I don’t think that the gulf between Scotland and Italy is as large as you think it is…

        Anyway, don’t feed the troll as they say.

    1. Sorry no other way I am aware of to give feedback – did your survey but it wouldn’t let me submit until I gave a reason for saying No I don’t post when I had selected Yes I do

      1. Submitted the survey but same issue as Angus. There needs to either be an option to skip that question or an answer that says N/A or something!

  3. Real shame about Russell, but perhaps now he’ll have more time to practice his kicking for the corner… Horne at 10 seems the logical option coming off the back of an effective performance at 10 for Glasgow and his links to the rest of the back line. Looking at the Italy team that was announced today, I am not remotely worried about this game. We should beat them, and beat them well, even without Russell.

  4. If I’m playing fullback in my next game and I’m waiting on a high ball coming in, I’ve had no time to jump for it, what am I meant to do if the chaser decides to jump? I’ve got no time to get out of the way of him landing and I can’t contest it. Do I try to catch him? Where is the sense in this law, before he jumped I was completely legal. It’s an absolute farce, it’s not Russell’s fault Biggar decided to jump and he decided to stay on the ground. Biggar took the risk by leaving the ground, if Russell had jumped he could have caused more damage, this is basically sending out a message saying “don’t contest for kicks unless you’re the attacking team. Or Welsh”

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more. You could see it in the Edinburgh game on Friday night. There was confusion and even a hint of fear whenever there was a potential contest for the high ball- no-one knew what to do because they didn’t know what they were allowed to do and what they weren’t. I’m so disappointed that they’ve upheld the ban!

  5. Disappointing result for Russell but like McChin states, a good opportunity to look at options at fly half. there seems to be something of a clamour on Twitter for SHC at 9 and Laidlaw at 10, which for me would be a backwards step. I hope SHC is fit to take his place on the bench as I can’t see Laidlaw being dropped. I would also like to see Horne at ten as he has played very well there against both Zebre and the Ospreys. He’s too lightweight for an international centre but I believe he could do a job at ten. Tonks just doesn’t cut it at ten for me, he’s much better at full back. I once saw Tonks playing for Scotland A at Scotstoun, just after he started playing ten for Edinburgh, and he looked very much out of his depth. His kicking from hand and restarts just aren’t good enough IMO. I’m looking forward to the Italy game though, in many ways it will be more of a true barometer as to where we are.

  6. Well the team has been announced – big news is Horne at 10. Also Seymour, Murray, and winson are the changes in the XV. Visser drops out of the quad altogether.

    Quite pleased with the team, although it’s a shame Maitland isn’t fit yet. Horne’s familiarity with themajority of the backline should benefit our attack.

  7. I like Vern. No messing. Visser out Tommy in. I think the fact that Lamnont stays ahead of Visser is telling.
    Delighted for Watson and Toolis to get first caps and that we, for this weekend at least, are looking for something more dynamic than big Jim. Good luck to Peter Horne.

    1. Hard to argue with any of the changes. Only change that surprised me was Swinson going straight in ahead of Toolis. Seymour returning is massive. Really looking forward to Saturday.

  8. My team for game v Ireland

    1.Ryan Grant
    2.Fraser Brown
    3.Geoff Cross
    4.Tim Swinson
    5.Jonny Gray
    6.Blair Cowan
    7.Hamish Watson
    8.David Denton
    9.Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
    10.Peter Horne / Finn Russell
    11.Tommy Seymour
    12.Alex Dunbar / Matt Scott
    13.Mark Bennett / Alex Dunbar
    14.Tim Visser
    15.Stuart Hogg

    Front Row : Ford has been in for too long and needs someone fresh in at hooker, with Grant and Murray beside him I believe Brown can fill that role.

    Second Row : Very consistent pair for Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12, put them in and see what they can do.

    Back Row : Against Ireland they will want to try and play the ball off the deck so why not have two “snatchers” in the back row and play Denton a ball carrier at 8?

    Half Backs : Let’s face it Laidlaw will never be up to the job whether it’s at 9 or 10, Hidalgo Clyne brings energy that squad hasn’t had in years, my second choice would all be dependent on how Horne plays this weekend.

    Centres : This is a difficult choice as I don’t believe that Bennett has done anything wrong and I like the way he plays for Glasgow but he just isn’t pulling it off on the international stage so dependant on how he goes against Italy would depend on what happens, remember Peter Horne can also do a job at 12.

    Back Three : Difficult one as Visser gets a lot of stick about his defence but in attack he can shift so until such times Maitland is fit I would have Seymour, Visser and Hogg, Cotter seams to favour Lamont at 11 but let’s be honest he is well past his sell by date.

    1. Are you suggesting playing Horne at 12 at the expense of Bennett? If Bennett hasn’t “pulled it off” at test level (which I would debate), I’ve yet to see Horne pull it off behind anything other than a steamroller pack. Which we rarely have at test level so I don’t think that would be a goer. Agree SHC deserves a chance to get us playing uptempo rugby as we did in the Autumn…

  9. I am not sure how trying your hardest to get away from a player than is landing on top of you constitutes “Tackling a player in the air”.

    Then if it did, the law states that it should just be a penalty. You can then up that to a yellow at the refs descresion (for dangerous or clumsy, more series than a bump). But to say it was worthy of a Red, the same as eye gouging, stamping, biting, punching, or two of those tackles at the least.

    I am unsure how they got from that “tackle” into a Red card offence that carries a 2-week ban with it. Are these ex-football players? Do they understand rugby? I am at a loss to get my head around the reasoning for this.

  10. Wow! You really don’t give them much time Mark McGuigan. You want to drop Mark Bennett after one and a half games as he isn’t ‘pulling it off’ at international level. Did you expect a couple of hat tricks by now?

  11. I hope the SRU hasn’t just agreed with the decision and moved on. As Gregor T and others have said, there needs to be some clarity in this area which can only be provided by the IRB. They can’t just bury their heads and hope it goes way.

    The team for Italy. No big decisions by BVC here. As mentioned previously, a less than 100% Seymour is better than Visser. Hope Seymour isn’t back too early and under cortisone.

    There are a number of arguments at 9, which appear to be lost on BVC.
    My own preference is for Pyrgos (who can kick) with Cusiter as back up. SHS might have the potential, but has done nothing at club level never mind international. His supporters are getting way ahead of themselves here.

    Pleased to see Toolis andf Watson given a chance, as they’ve been playing well. As a proponent of true open sides I’m particularly pleased with Watsons progress and look forward to seeing him up against a top bck row.
    The Italien who is going to Glasgow next year is in the Italien team, so it’ll be interesting to watch him.

    As for stand offs,

  12. I’ll finish the sentence. We have Finn Russell and Tonks.
    I thought Heathcote was harshly treated at Edinburgh and is a better player than he’s been allowed to show so far (and a far better kicker). Whether Jackson is back in time for the end of the season I don’t know. He would be my choice as a running stand off, with Horne and Tnks as back ups. I’m not sure if there are any others pushing their way through. Lee Miller at London Scottish is still a good player.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion