Six Nations 2015: SRU to appeal Finn Russell ban for dangerous tackle

Scotland stand-off handed two-week ban by disciplinary committee after taking out Wales 10 Dan Biggar in the air on Sunday

The Scottish Rugby Union have confirmed that they will appeal Finn Russell’s two-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Dan Biggar.

The 22-year-old Scotland stand-off was yellow carded for taking out Biggar in the air during the first half of Scotland’s 26-23 defeat at BT Murrayfield, but was later cited by independent Citing Commissioner Eugene Ryan (Ireland) under Law 10.4 (e) and (i) for an alleged dangerous tackle.

We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s discipline committee meeting, and subsequent suspension of stand-off Finn Russell.

Scottish Rugby Union statement

The Six Nations Disciplinary Committee in London, chaired by Mike Hamlin (England) along with Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland), upheld the citing at a hearing this afternoon and determined that Russell’s infringement had deserved a red card rather than the yellow issued by New Zealand referee Glen Jackson, who referred the incident in the 31st minute to TMO Simon McDowell.

The Disciplinary Committee determined the reckless challenge to be at the lower end of World Rugby’s scale of seriousness, which warrants a three-week suspension.

But due to there being no aggravating factors and the player’s previously clear disciplinary record, the player was afforded a one-week reduction from the entry point.

However, Scottish Rugby released a statement an hour after the verdict was made public, announcing their intention to appeal.

“We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s discipline committee meeting, and subsequent suspension of stand-off Finn Russell,” said an SRU spokesman.

“Following the arrival of the written sanction later this week, we intend to appeal.”

The initial two-week ban means that the Glasgow Warriors half-back will miss their Guinness PRO12 clash against the Ospreys this Saturday – although he was not expected to be available for selection – as well as Scotland’s Six Nations clash against Italy at BT Murrayfield on 28 February.

The Disciplinary Committee decided that the offence should be categorised under Law 10.4 (i) and that it was reckless rather than deliberate.

Six Nations Disciplinary Committee statement

Crucially for Scotland head coach Vern Cotter, Russell will be available for the Calcutta Cup clash against England at Twickenham on Saturday 14 March and their final match against Ireland at BT Murrayfield a week later.

But with Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson unavailable through injury, the New Zealander will have to make a tough decision over whether to shift Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw from scrum-half to stand-off for the Italy game, which could also mean a first Scotland start for Edinburgh rising star Sam Hidalgo-Clyne if he recovers from delayed mild concussion symptoms after his appearance off the bench against Wales.

Cotter could also move Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg to stand-off, as he did while Russell was in the sin bin, but is short of cover in that position, but Laidlaw’s experience in the position would make him the likely candidate.

Other options would be Tom Heathcote, who is returning from injury and last played for Scotland in June 2013 when he started in their dramatic 30-29 win over Italy in Pretoria, his Edinburgh team-mate Greig Tonks, who was an unused replacement against Wales, or Peter Horne, who led the Warriors to a 54-10 win over Zebre last Sunday.

Russell is suspended from playing until midnight on Sunday 1 March 2015.

MORE: Six Nations 2015: Wales head coach Warren Gatland relieved to come through tough Scotland test

MORE: Six Nations 2015: Scotland lock Richie Gray ruled out of tournament with an arm injury

MORE: Guinness PRO12: Simone Favaro excited to join Glasgow Warriors

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