Grewcock's World Cup hopes dip

England lock Danny Grewcock was last night digesting the bitter reality that his hopes of playing at the World Cup were all but wrecked – and his international career could be over.

England lock Danny Grewcock was last night digesting the bitter reality that his hopes of playing at the World Cup were all but wrecked – and his international career could be over.

Grewcock’s appeal against a six-week ban for punching was thrown out by an independent panel.

As a result, he remains banned from August 4 to September 15 – a period which covers England’s three World Cup warm-up Tests and the first two matches of the tournament, including the vital clash with South Africa.

The appeal was Grewcock’s last throw of the dice. He was originally banned after being found guilty of punching opposite number Thibault Privat in Bath’s European Challenge Cup final defeat by Clermont Auvergne.

As a result, Grewcock was omitted from England’s 47-man World Cup training squad and head coach Brian Ashton indicated his only hope of playing at the tournament was in mounting a successful appeal.

But the panel, which convened in Birmingham last night, took less than three hours to find “there had been no error on the part of the original committee’s decision”.

Ashton has already indicated he cannot afford to carry a suspended Grewcock in his 30-man World Cup squad.

Not only will Grewcock miss the entire preparation and the key pool game against South Africa – but he would not have played any rugby for four months by the time he is available for England’s pool match against Samoa in Nantes on September 22.

And at the age of 34, the ban could also spell the end of Grewcock’s 69-cap England career.

Grewcock is typically England’s second row enforcer but Ashton will have other, younger options heading into the 2008 Six Nations.

Ashton prefers to employ Martin Corry at lock, while the World Cup will provide the likes of Wasps lock Tom Palmer a chance to establish himself in England’s second row.

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