Edinburgh Rugby unsure of next move as WP Nel is cited over Pau incident
Edinburgh Rugby are carefully considering their approach to an independent disciplinary hearing which could lead to a suspension for their prop, WP Nel.
Nel has been cited for an incident in the win over Pau on Friday night and his case will be heard on Wednesday.
The Edinburgh tighthead is alleged to have struck the head of the French side’s prop, Téo Bordenave, “in a dangerous manner” in the 42nd minute of the match, in contravention of Law 9.12.
The complaint was made by the citing commissioner, Dana Teagarden of Germany.
Mike Blair, the Edinburgh coach, didn’t notice the incident at the time and admitted he was a little unsure about how to approach the hearing which will be heard via video link.
“This is a first for me and it’s an interesting process,” said Blair who took the reins at the club in the summer. “Really difficult. We’re doing a lot of reviewing of the footage to see where we’re at and we’ll make a decision on it.
“Obviously we’ve got some important games coming up which we’d love WP to be available for. There’s lots of work being done behind the scenes to work out the best way to approach this. It’s not easy. It’s a complicated type of situation the way these things are decided.”
There is a broad range of tariffs for such incidents. Suspensions at the low end of the offence are two weeks; mid-range is six weeks and the top end is 10 to 52 weeks.
Law 9.12 states that “a player must not punch or strike with hand, arm, elbow or shoulder”.
Nel came on as a replacement for the injured Luan de Bruin during the first half of the Challenge Cup Pool C match which Edinburgh won 54-5.
“I didn’t notice it at the time,” Blair said of the incident. “I know they’d had a look at it and Ben Whitehouse [the television match official] had passed it off as a rugby incident and we didn’t think anything more than that.
“We checked after the game about the health of the player and he seemed OK at the time. We’ll wait and see. We’re trying to work out the right path at the moment.”
Nel’s case will be heard by a committee comprising chair Simon Thomas (Wales), Donal Courtney (Ireland) and Martyn Wood (England).
Any suspension would rule the experienced Nel out Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup last-16 tie at home to Bath on Saturday night.
Their English opponents are bottom of the Gallagher Premiership but Blair is wary of their improved form in recent weeks and pointed to some notable threats, particularly at stand-off where Danny Cipriani and Orlando Bailey vie for the No 10 jersey, and the back row, which includes Scotland international Josh Bayliss and England counterpart Sam Underhill.
“This will be one of our toughest games,” said the Edinburgh coach. “They’ve got quality across the pitch. They’ve got two tens in Bailey and Cipriani who can pull something out of nothing, they’ve got pace on the wings, they’ve got power up front - we obviously know Josh Bayliss well - he’s scored a couple of worldies recently. Sam Underhill . . . They’ve got quality across the pitch. There’s plenty for us to focus our minds on.”