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England may appeal Lawes ban

England are considering whether to appeal against Courtney Lawes' two-match ban for recklessly striking Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma with his knee.

Lawes, the first player to be banned at the Rugby World Cup, is out of England's Pool B matches against Romania and Georgia but he will be available to face Scotland on October 1.

England manager Martin Johnson was clearly disappointed with the verdict but the early indications from the Red Rose camp were that they would not appeal but Johnson wanted to wait until England's travelling QC Richard Smith, who represented Lawes, has studied the full written judgement before making a final decision.

"He has dived in to make what he thinks is a try-saving tackle and we thought any contact with the knees was incidental to him trying to do that in a fast-paced game," said Johnson. "They obviously saw it a little bit differently."

The Northampton lock entered a not guilty plea when he appeared before a disciplinary hearing in Auckland, having been cited following England's 13-9 win against the Pumas in Dunedin.

The offence carries a guideline suspension of between three and 12 weeks - or matches in the World Cup context - and Lawes' offence was deemed to be 'low end'.

The independent judicial officer Terry Willis, from Australia, reduced the ban from three to two weeks on account of Lawes' "excellent disciplinary record and remorse".

England have the resources to cover Lawes' absence for the Georgia and Romania games with Louis Deacon, Simon Shaw and Tom Palmer in the squad as recognised locks while Tom Croft and Nick Easter can both fill in.

"It is disappointing to potentially lose him. For a young man, he played very well. It is not great," said Johnson.

"We have the cover clearly. The good thing for us squad-wise is that we will need to play players. We can't have guys not playing at all - and then asking them to play later games in the pool or hopefully into the knockout stages."


From Belfast Telegraph