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Controversial Freddie Steward Red Card Rescinded By World Rugby

Controversial Freddie Steward Red Card Rescinded By World Rugby
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Freddie Steward will be available to play again immediately for Leicester Tigers, after his controversial red card from the final Six Nations game against Ireland was rescinded on Wednesday.

The young full back saw red in Dublin after his elbow struck the head of Hugo Keenan at speed, in an incident that saw much debate among rugby pundits.

Jaco Peyper's decision to send off Steward drew outrage from English pundits, while even some Irish pundits such as Tommy Bowe felt the Leicester man was hard done by, and that alternatives to an 80-minute red card should be explored.


The incident was reviewed by World Rugby, and Steward has now seen the red card overturned.

Freddie Steward red card overturned by Independent Disciplinary Committee

Freddie Steward red card v Ireland

18 March 2023; Owen Farrell of England, right, protests as teammate Freddie Steward, second from right, is shown a red card by referee Jaco Peyper during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

On Wednesday morning, the results of the Independent Disciplinary Committee's hearing were confirmed, and their statement explained the reasoning behind Steward's red card being overturned. They stated that, contrary to decision made during the on-field discussion between the referee and TMO, there were mitigating factors at play, and that a yellow card would have been a more appropriate punishment:


The Red Card was issued as a result of the Referee concluding that the Player had acted contrary to Law 9.13 (A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders).

The independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Nigel Hampton KC Chair (New Zealand), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and John Langford (Australia) heard the case, and considered all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the Player and his representative.

After hearing the submissions, the Disciplinary Committee formally amended the Law which was breached to Law 9.11 (Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others including leading with the elbow or forearm, or jumping into, or over, a tackler).

The player denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card as described in Law 9.11. Having reviewed all the evidence, the Committee decided that: (i) head contact with an opposing player had occurred; (ii) there had been an act of foul play in breach of Law 9.11 in that the Player had been reckless in his actions and in his upright positioning as he approached and came into highly dangerous contact with the other player; and (iii) there were sufficient mitigating factors including the late change in the dynamics and positioning of the opposing player which should have resulted in the issue of a yellow card rather than a red card.

On that basis, the Committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again. immediately. The Committee acknowledged that match officials are required to make decisions under pressure and in the heat of a live match environment.

The decision to overturn Steward's red card will no doubt be a contentious one in Irish rugby circles, given the force to the head of Hugo Keenan.


SEE ALSO: Could Ronan O'Gara Be Tempted Into Taking New Zealand Role?

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