Freddie Steward: England full-back’s controversial red card in Ireland Six Nations finale rescinded
Freddie Steward’s red card in England’s 29-16 Six Nations defeat by Ireland in Dublin has been rescinded.
The England full-back is free to play immediately, with an independent disciplinary committee ruling his challenge on Ireland’s Hugo Keenan warranted only a yellow card.
Steward was dismissed by referee Jaco Peyper just before half-time at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, with Ireland progressing to complete just the fourth Grand Slam in their history.
The 22-year-old Steward will now be free to play in Leicester’s Gallagher Premiership trip to Bristol on Saturday.
Steward raced out of the defensive line to make a tackle on Keenan, who attempted to scoop up a loose ball after a knock on.
The England star had to adjust to the fumble at the last minute, and argued on the field that he had only a split-second to react.
Steward and his England colleagues argued on the field and after the match that he had done all he could to limit the collision with Keenan, whose match was ended when he then failed a Head Injury Assessment (HIA).
The independent disciplinary committee ruled that Peyper had imposed the wrong law in reaching the red card decision, opting to follow guidelines for the law around dangerous tackles.
The detail of choosing the law relating to reckless play has now seen Steward’s red card rescinded.
Steward contested the charge in his hearing, and England’s lawyers were able to overturn the dismissal.
“The player denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card,” read a Six Nations statement.
“Having reviewed all the evidence the committee decided that there were sufficient mitigating factors including the late change in the dynamics and positioning of the opposing player which should have resulted in the issue of a yellow card rather than a red card.
“On that basis, the committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again immediately.”
On the field, Steward told referee Peyper: “I’m bracing for impact and I can’t go anywhere else. It’s milliseconds, sir. I can’t react quickly enough.”
Peyper insisted there was no mitigation however, and duly dismissed the England full-back.
Ireland would likely have completed their victory and Grand Slam even if England had retained 15 players for the full match, but Steward’s dismissal perhaps robbed both teams of a classic Test encounter.
The disciplinary committee offered solace to referee Peyper however, adding: “The committee acknowledged that match officials are required to make decisions under pressure and in the heat of a live match environment.”