Key Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have successfully had their World Cup-ending three-week bans overturned, and are free to face the Wallabies in this weekend’s quarter-final.
Ford and Gray initially copped the hefty suspensions for a seemingly innocuous two-man tip tackle on Samoa flanker Jack Lam.
However, following an appeal hearing in London on Saturday they were absolved by the Appeal Committee, chaired by the Honourable Justice Lex Mpati (South Africa), sitting with Justice Graeme Mew (Canada) and former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans (New Zealand).
“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.”
The ban drew widespread condemnation from the rugby union community.
The 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward said judiciary overreaction was marring the tournament.
Neither Gray nor Ford were named in Scotland’s starting lineup for their Twickenham clash with the Wallabies, but both are considered first-choice options and could be rushed in by kick-off on Sunday (Monday 0200 AEDT).
There’s no doubt that coming into the last week of October without a broadcast rights deal in place for 2021 is less than ideal for Rugby Australia. But developments over the last week or so suggest that whatever deal is done from here is going to be a whole lot better than expected.