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Six Nations blow for France as Willemse suspended for four weeks

todayFebruary 7, 2024

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France suffered another blow to their Six Nations hopes on Tuesday when lock Paul Willemse was suspended for four weeks over his sending-off in their loss to Ireland.

The tournament’s disciplinary committee imposed the punishment after Willemse received a yellow and then red card for high tackles in the 37-18 defeat in the opening Six Nations match in Marseille.

The 31-year-old Willemse, who won his 32nd cap, was shown a yellow card in the ninth minute for catching Ireland prop Andrew Porter in the face.

That was followed by a shoulder to head tackle on Ireland back row Caelan Doris in the 32nd minute, which initially earned Willemse a second sin-binning.

Although two yellow cards constitute a sending off anyway, the ‘bunker review’ over half time upgraded the second yellow card to a full red.

Even so, the disciplinary panel opted for leniency.

“The committee recognised that while both actions were reckless, there was no evidence to suggest that the player had acted maliciously or intentionally in either case,” the Six Nations explained in a statement.

“The committee also noted that the player had behaved admirably during the proceedings and had shown remorse for his actions.”

South African-born Willemse, who missed the last two World Cup tournaments with injury, is due to return on March 2.

If he serves his full term, Willemse will be suspended for France’s visit to Scotland on February 10 and the clash with Italy in Saint-Etienne on February 25.

He would also miss three of his French club Montpellier’s Top 14 matches between February 17 and March 2.

But he can reduce his ban by a week by applying to take part in World Rugby’s coaching programme designed to improve tackling technique. That would mean he could be available for Montpellier’s trip to Oyonnax on Match 2.

His suspension poses a major headache for France coach Fabien Galthie, who already has lost three other locks to injury in Thibaud Flament, Emmanuel Meafou and Romain Taofifenua.




Written by: Staff Writer

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