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Argentina left to sweat on Figallo hearing

By Niall Crozier

Argentina could be without scrum ace Juan Figallo for Saturday’s crunch Guinness Series date with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium (2pm).

The 24-year-old Montpellier tight-head — at 6ft 3in and 18st 1lb, an awesome cornerstone — was cited by England’s Mike Rafter for allegedly ‘striking with the head’ home captain Pascal Papé at the end of the first half of Saturday’s France v Argentina autumn international in Lille.

The case against the Puma is that he violated Law 10.4(a) which states: ‘A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s)’.

Independent IRB-appointed judicial officers will adjudicate today and, if found guilty, Figallo faces a ban which would rule him out of Saturday’s Dublin date.

Under the same law, South African lock Eben Etzebeth was suspended for two weeks following an attempted headbutt on Australian second-row Nathan Sharpe in the Four Nations Championship Perth Test in September. Initially it seemed no contact was made, but replays showed there had been a slight amount, resulting a two-week ban for the big Springbok.

And Etzebeth was in the dock again yesterday, having been cited under Law 10.4 (m) by England's Alan Mansell for contact with the eye(s) or eye area — gouging — of Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw in the 54th minute of Saturday’s match at Murrayfield.

Springbok fears that the 21-year-old Stormers lock would be ruled out of Saturday’s Twickenham clash with England – and for some time after that – came to nothing.

The ruling at yesterday afternoon’s London hearing was that Etzebeth was not guilty of any deliberate contact. In the circumstances there was no sanction.

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