England: Boost for Steve Borthwick as Henry Slade’s red card dismissed

Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade will be available for the Six Nations campaign after his red card at the weekend was rescinded.

The talented playmaker received his marching orders in Exeter’s defeat to the Bulls for his high tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Slade connected with the shoulder before it rode up towards the neck area, leading to him being sanctioned.

However, the common consensus was that he had been on the end of a wrong decision, which the disciplinary panel agreed with.

Act of foul play

Although they stated that the centre had committed an act of foul play, it was decided that it did not meet the red card threshold.

He is, therefore, free to play immediately and is in contention to face Scotland in England’s opening game of the Six Nations.

An EPCR statement said: “An independent Disciplinary Committee comprising Jennifer Donovan (Ireland), Chair, Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Yannick Jauzion (France) considered video imagery of the incident and heard evidence from Slade, who did not accept the red card decision, and heard submissions from the player’s legal representative, Richard Smith KC, from the Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

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“The committee decided that while Slade had committed an act of foul play, it did not warrant a sending off. The red card decision was therefore dismissed, and he is free to play.

“EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.”

Cobus Wiese banned

Sale Sharks lock Cobus Wiese will miss this weekend’s crunch Champions Cup match with Ulster after receiving a two-game suspension.

Wiese received a red card in the first half of their match with Toulouse for a dangerous cleanout at a ruck.

He will be free to play on Monday, January 30, but that could be reduced if he completes a World Rugby Coaching Intervention course.

A statement read: “It determined that Wiese entered the ruck dangerously making contact with Aldegheri above the line of the shoulders, that the offending was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions, and four weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.

“Due to the player’s good disciplinary record and his guilty plea, it was decided to grant him the full 50% mitigation and the committee therefore reduced the sanction by two weeks before imposing a two-week suspension.

“Wiese is free to play on Monday, 30 January 2023, however, if he applies for and successfully completes a World Rugby Coaching Intervention, he will be free to play on Monday, 23 January 2023.”

Bristol deducted five points

In the Challenge Cup, Premiership side Bristol Bears have been deducted five points for fielding an ineligible player in their opening two matches.

The Bears have won all three of their games so far, but lock Elliott Stooke was not eligible to play.

It does not affect their qualification but may hamper their seeding in the next round.

They have also been handed a suspended €10,000 fine, which will be enacted should they commit a similar offence, either this season or in 2023/24.

The EPCR said: “The committee heard that Stooke, who had been previously made redundant by Wasps, was properly registered to play for Bristol Bears as an Additional Player in the EPCR Challenge Cup, and that under EPCR’s rules, Additional Players must be contracted to the club for a minimum period of three months.

“In addition, the committee heard that clubs must also sign an Additional Player Undertaking to ensure that the three-month contract remains in full force and effect for the entire three-month period, and to ensure that players do not enter into a contract or arrangement with any other club that would prevent them from playing for the club with which they have been registered.

“The committee was told that following his participation in the matches against USAP and Zebre Parma, Stooke informed Bristol Bears that he wished to activate an early release clause in his contract and was taking up an offer to join Montpellier Hérault Rugby.

“However, by permitting Stooke to sign for Montpellier Hérault Rugby before the three-month period had elapsed, Bristol Bears unwittingly breached the Additional Player Undertaking, and Stooke therefore became retrospectively ineligible for the Round 1 and Round 2 matches against USAP and Zebre Parma.”