- Prop cited for ‘failing to respect the authority’ of referee
- Sinckler apologises but ban could affect England selection
The England prop Kyle Sinckler faces an anxious wait to discover if he will be available for the start of the Six Nations after being cited for “failing to respect the authority” of the referee Karl Dickson during Bristol’s Premiership win against Exeter on Saturday.
Sinckler has already apologised via social media for screaming “Are you fucking serious?” after Dickson ruled that a diving tackle by Luke Cowan-Dickie did not merit a yellow card for non-use of the arms. The tighthead, who was once a teammate of Dickson’s at Harlequins, did not receive a sanction at the time but has now been ordered to appear before an online disciplinary hearing on Tuesday evening.
While there is still some doubt over when exactly the Six Nations will kick off given the rising Covid-19 infection rates in Europe, a mid-range sanction of four weeks would potentially affect Eddie Jones’s selection plans for England’s opening fixture against Scotland at Twickenham on 6 February.
The Rugby Football Union, though, also remains keen to uphold the values of respect in the game and Sinckler’s outburst on live television has attracted a good deal of attention both inside and outside the sport. There is a distinction between criticising a referee’s decision and directly abusing the same official’s character, however, which may yet result in a low-end entry point ban of two weeks.
The incident occurred early in the second half of Bristol’s 20-7 victory against the defending league and European champions. After being floored by Cowan-Dickie’s low tackle and hearing Dickson suggest it was a legitimate challenge, an angry Sinckler made his displeasure known to the official even before he had risen to his feet.
Dickson, in return, warned the 27-year-old to control himself or risk a red card. “If you scream at me like that again you will leave the field,” the former Quins scrum-half said. “The language you used is unacceptable.” Sinckler was subsequently cited by the independent citing commissioner Duncan Bell, himself a former international prop, and has already acknowledged he was in the wrong. “Want to apologise for my reaction today,” he tweeted. “Not the example I want to be setting. Heat of the moment stuff. Will make a conscious effort to improve. My bad.”
The prop was previously banned in 2017 for seven weeks for making contact with the eye of Northampton’s Michael Paterson. The independent disciplinary panel will be chaired by Richard Whittam QC, with Becky Essex and one other panel member to be confirmed.
The citing follows another much-discussed incident in a French league game at the weekend where the Nevers winger Josaia Raisuqe was shown a red card for jokingly hoisting the referee aloft after the final whistle of his side’s 30-25 win against Beziers.