Joe Marler, Manu Tuilagi and Mohamed Haouas have been cleared to play as soon as the season resumes after a secret Six Nations disciplinary review permitted them to serve their bans during the coronavirus shutdown.
England prop Marler copped a 10-week suspension for an act of foul play on Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, after making bizarre contact with Jones’ groin area in a Six Nations clash, which England went on to win 33-30. The ban was set to expire on 7 June.
Centre Tuilagi received a four-week ban for a head-high shoulder charge on Welsh wing George North in the same Test and his suspension was set to end on 14 April.
France prop Haouas was handed a three-week ban for striking Scotland flank Jamie Richie in the face and would have also been free to play from 14 April.
Under World Rugby guidelines, each week of a ban should correspond to a match, but it has now come to light that all three above mentioned players will be eligible for selection whenever the season resumes without actually missing a game.
The Times reported on Saturday that a ‘secret’ Six Nations disciplinary meeting took place after David Hurley, who was chairman of the disciplinary panel in Marler’s case, wrote to the Six Nations seeking a review of the sanctions in light of the current coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent suspension of the 2019-20 season.
The disciplinary review ruled in favour of leaving the sanctions as it is, i.e. not extending it or having it apply to when the season resumes, as the disciplinary panel concluded that they were not entitled to extend the bans under current Six Nations rules.
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