Scotland duo Ross Ford and Jonny Gray are free to play in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Australia after having three week bans for a dangerous tackle overturned on appeal.
Scotland did not rule out using hooker Ford and Gray, who has been partnering his older brother Richie in the second row, after they wer completely absolved of foul play during the 36-33 victory over Samoa last Saturday.
Ford had been found guilty of a dangerous tackle and Gray of a tip tackle. Their three week ban was imposed on the same day that Argentinian Marcelo Bosch received just a week’s ban for a tip tackle.
“Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence, including new submissions from the players and their representatives, along with all available camera angles,” read the Appeal Committee statement.
“The appeal committee dismissed the finding that the players had committed an act of foul play as the player had not been dropped or driven and therefore the tackle was not dangerous,” read the appeals
“The players are therefore free to play again immediately.”
Neither player had been selected in Vern Cotter’s starting XV for Sunday’s game and it remains to be seen whether the Kiwi coach puts them in at this late stage.
“They are available to us and we are considering our options,” Scotland spokesman Michael James told AFP.
Cotter had brought in Tim Swinson and Fraser Brown for Gray and Ford respectively.
The Scotland camp was so infuriated by the severity of the bans that their chief executive Mark Dodson raised the matter with World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper.
“I have raised their case with Brett Gosper at World Rugby and asked for consistency in how such incidents are punished,” said Dodson on Thursday.
“It is clear other unions are also seeking better clarity on the use of citing and the interpretation of how key areas of the game are scrutinised and the subsequent levels of punishment set.”
World Rugby issued a statement this week insisting that all players were judged on the same criteeria, no matter if they came from tier one or tier two nations — like the Pacific Island sides like Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, or Georgia.