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'It's not a closed fist' - Schmidt hopeful SOB will avoid World Cup ban

The Ireland openside lashed out at Pascal Papé in the first half at the Millennium Stadium.

Murray Kinsella reports from the Millennium Stadium

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt says he is hopeful openside flanker Sean O’Brien is not facing a ban for striking Pascal Papé during his side’s 24-9 win against France.

Sean OÕBrien with Wesley Fofana Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

O’Brien lashed out at the France lock early in a bruising game at the Millennium Stadium, with replays of the incident suggesting that the Tullow man was fortunate the match officials didn’t spot it.

“I’d certainly hope not,” said Schmidt when asked if there’s a lengthy ban coming for O’Brien. “He was being held at the time, he swung. I don’t think he’s looking directly at the player but it’s not for me to determine.

I also think that it’s not a coup de poing (French for a punch), as people may have said, it’s not a closed fist. I’d be hopeful but it’s not a decision for me and it’s hopefully not something that impacts on us.

“Considering the dressing room at the moment and the amount of injuries that we have, we can ill afford to lose another player, particularly a player of Sean’s experience and standing in the group.”

World Rugby Law 10.4 (a) says “a player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).”


Suspensions for striking another player with the hand, arm or fist carry a low-end entry point of two weeks. The mid-range entry point is five weeks and the top-end begins at 12 weeks.

If O’Brien is to be cited for the incident with Papé, Ireland might hope for a low-end two weeks, possibly with a week shaved off for what they will clearly argue as mitigating factors and a good recent disciplinary record. 

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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