England’s Courtney Lawes has been suspended for two weeks (two matches) after being found guilty of recklessly striking an opponent with his knee, so will miss the games against Georgia and Romania, but will be back for the pool decider against Scotland.
Following a review of broadcast footage, Lawes was cited by Independent Citing Commissioner Murray Whyte (Ireland) under Law 10.4(a) for striking Mario Ledesma with the knee in the Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool B match against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10.
Lawes, who pleaded not guilty, was suspended by Independent Judicial Officer Terry Willis (Australia) in accordance with the Rugby World Cup 2011 Disciplinary process.
Martin Johnson said: “It’s a fast-moving game, he’s dived in to make what he thinks is a try-saving tackle and we thought that any contact with the knees was incidental to him trying to do that in a fast-paced game,” Johnson said of the incident which saw Lawes suspended.
“They (the disciplinary panel) obviously saw it a little bit differently, but let’s wait until we see the detail. From our point of view we thought slightly differently.
“It’s disappointing that we lose a player, obviously. A good player for us. We have cover there clearly, but it’s disappointing.
“I’ve briefly spoken to the guys up there (Auckland). We’ll wait until the guys get back and go from there. I’ve not got the detail, so we’ll see what they say and see where we are with it.
“The good thing for us squad-wise is that we’re going to need to play players because we can’t have guys not playing at all and then asking them to go in and play later games in the pool or hopefully into the knock-out stages.”
Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence from the Player and submissions from his Counsel, Richard Smith QC, the Judicial Officer upheld the Citing on the basis that the Player had committed an act of foul play.
With respect to the sanction, the offence was deemed to be Low-End (which has an entry point of three weeks). However, taking into account mitigating factors being his excellent disciplinary record and remorse and the absence of aggravating factors, the Player was suspended for two weeks.
In the context of the Rugby World Cup Tournament a week equates to one match. Therefore Lawes is suspended for two Rugby World Cup 2011 matches and is free to resume playing for England’s Pool B match against Scotland in Auckland on October 1.
The full written decision will be available via the RWC 2011 online media centre within 24 hours. The player has 48 hours in which to appeal from the time the full written decision is made available to him.