Re­lief for Fran­cis as he is cleared to play over dan­ger­ous tackle

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

in Tokyo

Piers Fran­cis has been cleared to con­tinue play­ing in the World Cup af­ter his cit­ing for mak­ing a dan­ger­ous tackle on United States full­back Will Hoo­ley was dis­missed by a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, which ruled it did not war­rant a red card.

Fran­cis had been at risk of re­ceiv­ing a three-match sus­pen­sion, which would have all but ended his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the tour­na­ment, af­ter the cen­tre ap­peared to make con­tact with his shoul­der to the chin of Hoo­ley just seven sec­onds into Eng­land’s 45-7 vic­tory. The cit­ing came three days af­ter World Rugby had crit­i­cised its match of­fi­cials for fail­ing rig­or­ously to en­force a crack­down on high and dan­ger­ous tack­les in the first week of the tour­na­ment.

At the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing in Tokyo yes­ter­day, Fran­cis ad­mit­ted the tackle was dan­ger­ous but in­sisted it war­ranted only be­ing sent to the sin-bin, and the com­mit­tee agreed.

“Hav­ing con­sid­ered all the an­gles of the in­ci­dent, to­gether with ev­i­dence from the player and sub­mis­sions from his le­gal coun­sel, the panel de­ter­mined that the act ought to have re­sulted in a yel­low card on­field,” a World Rugby state­ment read.

“Since the thresh­old for up­hold­ing a cit­ing is red card, the com­mit­tee did not up­hold the cit­ing and the player is free to play again im­me­di­ately.”

Mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors such as Hoo­ley’s sud­den change in height be­fore con­tact and Fran­cis’s at­tempt to change his own height shaped the de­ci­sion.

It means the cen­tre is free to play in the pool match against Ar­gentina on Satur­day, al­though as a fringe player he is un­likely to be in­volved.

Mean­while, Eng­land’s hopes of qual­i­fy­ing for the last eight could be given a boost af­ter it emerged that France’s match against the US in Fukuoka on Wed­nes­day is un­der threat from a ty­phoon. World Rugby said both teams had been in­formed of con­tin­gency plans if it does not go ahead.

In the event of a can­cel­la­tion, tour­na­ment reg­u­la­tions would mean the re­sult is clas­si­fied as a 0-0 draw, and France would miss the op­por­tu­nity of a five-point haul from a bonus-point win and re­ceive only two points, hand­ing a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage to Eng­land.

Yel­low card only: Piers Fran­cis’s tackle on Will Hoo­ley did not merit dis­missal

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