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Boost for Ireland as Baird free to face Italy in U20 World Championship showdown

The Leinster second row appeared before a disciplinary committee yesterday after seeing red for a high tackle.

IRELAND SECOND ROW Ryan Baird has been cleared by a disciplinary committee and is free to play against Italy in today’s U20 World Championship final Pool B clash.

Ryan Baird receives a red card Baird was dismissed for a high tackle against Australia on Saturday. Source: Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

Baird received a red card in Saturday’s defeat to Australia for a high tackle on out-half Will Harrison. The Leinster lock flew out of Ireland’s defensive line in the 21st minute to hit the Junior Wallabie, but connected with his head. 

Referee Christopher Ridley decided that there was a ‘high level of force and danger’ involved after consulting his TMO, said he had ‘no choice’ but to hand Baird his marching orders while 14-man Ireland went on to suffer a 45-17 defeat.

The player appeared at a hearing before an independent World Rugby Disciplinary Committee chaired by José Luis Rolandi [Argentina], along with Stefan Terblanche [former South African player] and Valeriu Toma [former Romanian referee], in Rosario.

And there was good news for Noel McNamara’s men as he walked free.

A statement, explaining how the panel received evidence from Baird, Harrison, the Australian team doctor and the referee as well as a presentation by the player and his team management, reads:

The Disciplinary Committee found that on detailed analysis there had not been direct contact between Baird’s arm and Harrison’s head and that Baird’s tackle had slipped up from the shoulder.

“Applying the World Rugby Decision Making Framework for High Tackles (laws.worldrugby.org/en/guidelines) elected to impose no further sanction.”

After the dream opening 42-26 win over England, Ireland’s U20 World Championship semi-final hopes are hanging by a thread after the defeat to Australia.

The injury-ravaged Grand Slam winners face Italy in Santa Fe tomorrow afternoon [KO 2.30pm, eir Sport]. 

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Emma Duffy

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