Duhan van der Merwe will miss the final Six Nations matches in Scotland
DUHAN van der Merwe will miss Scotland’s final two Six Nations games, against Italy on Saturday and Ireland a week later, after receiving a three-week ban for the red card shown to him as he played for Worcester against London Irish last weekend. Week three can be put on hold if he completes a World Rugby coaching intervention program, in which case he can return against Gloucester on March 25.
The winger was sent off for reckless or dangerous play after a face fight with Scotland team-mate Kyle Rowe, who could now benefit from Van der Merwe’s suspension.
Alternatively, national coach Gregor Townsend could appoint Blair Kinghorn on the wing – a position the Edinburgh stalemate has previously played in at Test level. The fact that Townsend has called up both Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson as backup fly-halfs suggests he is considering going that route, with Finn Russell scheduled to start at 10 a.m. as usual.
An announcement from England Rugby last night explained the findings of the Independent Disciplinary Panel which looked into the matter. Van der Merwe, he said, had “accepted that foul play had occurred, but wondered if the red card threshold had been reached. The panel upheld the red card and Van der Merwe received a three-week ban.
“Panel chairman Jeremy Summers said: ‘The player had sufficient time and opportunity to execute a legal transfer but failed to do so. The contact he then made with an opponent’s head was direct, quick and involved a forearm thrust forward, all of which are very dangerous pointing to a red card in the process of World Rugby head contact. No low hazard or mitigating factors were present, and while some may think this resulted in a difficult outcome, the referee correctly applied the HCP.