Seán O’Brien will learn his Rugby World Cup fate today after being cited for striking French lock Pascal Pape during Sunday’s Pool D-clinching win in Cardiff.
O’Brien produced one of his best performances in an Ireland jersey as he helped his side to a 24-9 victory at the Millennium Stadium but what appeared to be an opening minute tussle with Pape could well see him suspended from this Sunday’s quarter-final clash with Argentina.
The incident was missed by both match referee Nigel Owens and Television Match Official Graham Hughes but was caught by television cameras and last night came the inevitable news that flanker O’Brien had been cited for an alleged act of foul play contrary to Law 10.4(a), which deals with striking.
O’Brien will face a hearing at a central London law firm today at 1pm to be heard by independent Judicial Officer Terry Willis from Australia, although according to France coach Philippe Saint-Andre it is an open and shut case.
“It was an assault after 23 seconds of the game,” Saint-Andre said.
“I hope the next time the TMO will really do his job. Since the beginning of the competition on whatever matter is concerned, try or injury, we return to a review of the images.
“In this case they do no such thing.”
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who has enough on his plate with the loss of forwards Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony as well as an injury doubt hanging over Johnny Sexton’s involvement this weekend, had hoped O’Brien would escape a citing.
“He was being held at the time, he swung but I don’t think he was looking directly at the player but it’s not for me to determine,” Schmidt said in his post-match press conference.
“It’s not a closed fist. I’d be hopeful but it’s not a decision for me.
“Hopefully it’s not something that impacts on us.
“Considering the dressing room at the moment, we can ill-afford to lose another player, particularly a player of Seán’s experience and standing in the group.”
Argentina, meanwhile have disciplinary issues of their own to deal with after centre Marcelo Bosch was also cited for a dangerous tackle during the Puma’s 64-19 win over Namibia in Leicester on Sunday.
The alleged act of foul play contrary to Law 10.4(e) occurred when replacement Bosch earned a yellow card from pascal Gauzere for a spear tackle on Namibian fly-half Theuns Kotze and the Argentine will go in front of independent Judicial Officer Jean-Noel Couraud of France this afternoon in London.
The entry point on the tariff for the act O’Brien is accused of is a two-week ban, which would rule the back-rower out of both the quarter-final and potential semi-final if Ireland were to beat Argentina.
That could be reduced if the judicial officer takes into account O’Brien’s previous disciplinary record, his contrition were he to be found guilty and the severity of the alleged act of foul play.
Bosch faces a similar entry point of two weeks.
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