Scotland’s task of knocking over in-form Australia in this weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final has become a lot tougher after two of their best forwards were suspended.
Hooker Ross Ford and second-rower Jonny Gray were both handed three-week bans by World Rugby on Tuesday for dangerous tackles during last Saturday’s World Cup pool match against Samoa.
The Wallabies face Scotland at Twickenham on Sunday (Monday 0200AEDT) with the winner to move into a semi-final against either Ireland or Argentina.
Ford and Gray face missing the rest of the World Cup given they would only have three matches left if they win all the way through to the final.
They have 48 hours to appeal the decision.
Their two-man tip tackle put Samoa flanker Jack Lam on his head.
A spokesman for the national team said they were “disappointed” by Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC’s decision, adding: “We will consider carefully the full written judgment before making a decision on any future action.”
Both Ford and Gray denied committing an act of foul play but Quinlan ruled otherwise.
World Rugby’s statement on the case said: “Tackles involving a player being lifted off the ground and tipped horizontally and were then either forced or dropped to the ground must be dealt with severely by match officials and all those involved in the disciplinary process.”
Meanwhile, Scotland prop Gordon Reid hopes Scotland can script themselves a victory of Hollywood proportions when they take on World Cup A-listers Australia.
Few – if any – seriously believe that Vern Cotter’s side can upstage the Aussies in London and clinch a first semi-final slot in 24 years.
But Reid is refusing to write off his team and has taken heart from the underdog tales which have inspired so many movie classics.
“It’s not just any team we are up against this weekend, it’s Australia – one of the biggest teams in the world,” he said.
“But we’ve got a bit of belief about us now. Anything can happen.
“Everyone is writing us off as underdogs. I don’t care. It’s awesome. Just look at the movies. It’s always the underdog who wins – just look at the Mighty Ducks. We can be those Mighty Ducks.”
Scotland suffered a Six Nations whitewash earlier this year but have responded with an impressive display of single-mindedness, shrugging off the Japanese shock troops, dodging another banana skin laid down by the United States before withstanding a surprise Samoan onslaught to escape Pool B, with defeat to South Africa their only blemish.