By Mitch Phillips
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – England flanker Tom Curry has been handed an effective two-game suspension and will miss the Rugby World Cup Pool D matches against Japan and Chile following his red card inside three minutes against Argentina on Saturday.
Curry clashed heads with Argentina fullback Juan Cruz Mallia as he attempted to make a tackle from an upright position and was initially given a yellow card by referee Mathieu Raynal, which was upgraded to red after a bunker review.
The 25-year-old attended an Independent Disciplinary Committee hearing in Paris on Tuesday and was handed a three-match ban, though he will be free to face Samoa on Oct. 7 if he completes a coaching intervention programme – World Rugby’s “tackle school” – which he says he plans to do.
A statement from World Rugby said: “The player accepted that foul play occurred and that the offence warranted a red card.
“The committee noted that the offence carries a mandatory minimum mid-range sanction (six matches), and having considered the mitigating factors, including admission of foul play and correctness of the red card at the first opportunity, an exemplary disciplinary record, apology to the player and good character, reduced the sanction by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent.”
England are already without captain Owen Farrell for the Japan game as he serves the final game of his suspension.
Curry’s was their fourth red in six matches, though Freddie Steward’s against Ireland in the Six Nations was rescinded.
Farrell was punished for a “shoulder to head” collision, while Curry, playing his first rugby since May after a series of injuries, was the latest to fall foul of the sport’s crackdown on upright tackles, which can lead to a high number of concussions.
Many fans and pundits claimed that other similar tackles over the weekend had gone unpunished, but that was never likely to be part of Curry’s defence.
Earlier on Tuesday, England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth said the red card was the result of a “fast-moving game.
“You will appreciate that I can’t talk around this instance or any other that may affect pre-hearing,” he said.
“It is an evasion sport where collisions happen, accidents happen, it’s a fast-moving game with incredible athletes so it gives you some insight into what may or may not have happened on the field.
“You will appreciate I can’t elaborate on my thoughts on our head knock or any others. I can’t comment on our frustration or anyone else’s.”
(This story has been corrected to remove the incorrect reference to Billy Vunipola being unavailable for the Japan game, in paragraph 6)
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips Editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)