Scotland prop Rory Sutherland cleared to play Six Nations opener against England

Scotland prop Rory Sutherland has been cleared to play in the Six Nations opener against England after his weekend red card for Worcester.

Utherland was sent off for making illegal contact with rival Will Stuart’s head just 75 seconds after Worcester’s 22-19 Gallagher Premiership defeat at Bath on Sunday.

The British and Irish Lions international has received a three-week ban for dangerous tackle contrary to World Rugby Law 9.13, which allows him to play against England at Murrayfield on 5 February.

The 27-year-old could still be available for the Warriors’ next Premiership game at home in Northampton on January 29 if he successfully completes the World Rugby coaching course.

Panel chairman Charles Cuthbert said: “The player admitted that he had committed foul play in which his head made direct contact with the opposing player.

“It was not acknowledged that the Act deserves a red card.

“The player tried to convince the panel that it was possible to apply mitigating factors due to the sideways move of the ball carrier shortly before contact when applying the Head Contact Procedure (HCP).


Scotland prop Rory Sutherland leaves the pitch after being shown a red card for Worcester in Bath (David Davies/PA)

“The Panel considered the verbal submissions of the club and player as well as the RFU, but did not find that the Baath player’s movement was sufficient to allow a reduction from a red card to a yellow card. The charge was therefore upheld.

“The player admitted that he had committed foul play, had a clean disciplinary record and was open and direct in his response to questions asked.

“The panel accordingly allowed 50 per cent mitigation. No invasive features were present and therefore clearance is maintained for three weeks.

“The player sought permission to apply to World Rugby to participate in the coaching intervention programme, which was approved by the panel.


Scotland and England begin their 2022 Six Nations Championship campaigns at Murrayfield on 5 February (David Davies/PA)

“If the player successfully completes the coaching course, he or she will be available for the game against Northampton Saints.”

Sutherland will surely miss Worcester’s European Challenge Cup matches against Toulon and Zebre.

Meanwhile, Exeter prop Alec Hepburn has received a three-week suspension after being sent off for a tip tackle in the Chiefs’ 14-12 Premiership defeat at Harlequin last Saturday.

Cuthbert said: “The player admitted that he had acted dishonestly and that the act deserves the award of a red card.


Exeter prop Alec Hepburn has received a three-week ban after being sent to Harlequin (David Davis/PA)

“The panel agreed with the submissions of both the Club and the RFU that the appropriate entry point was the low end.

“While allowing a 50 percent mitigation based on his acceptance of the charge, his clean record and his engagement with the process, the panel imposed a three-week suspension, meaning the player is free to play on 1 February.”

Hepburn will miss Exeter’s Heineken Champions Cup games against Glasgow and Montpellier and the Premiership trip to London Irish.