CHRIS FOY: It is a smart decision from England to not contest Tom Curry’s red card… they have avoided a potentially longer ban, while Steve Borthwick will be able to call upon the flanker when he is needed most
- Tom Curry was sent off during England’s 27-10 win over Argentina on Saturday
- The Sale flanker has been banned for two games after his head-on-head clash
- Steve Borthwick’s side made a smart decision by not contesting the red card
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
This is smart from England. They would have had reasonable cause to contest the charge against Tom Curry, but by accepting the red card, they know he will be back for when they need him most.
The Sale flanker has been banned after an incident which was very similar to other head-on-head clashes over the weekend.
Curry has been punished by the judiciary, whereas no action was taken against either South Africa centre Jesse Kriel or Chile captain Martin Sigren.
Referring to footage and images of those other ugly collisions might have served as a reasonable means of arguing that the ‘bunker’ review decision to upgrade Curry’s initial yellow card to a red should be rescinded.
But the risk was that by doing so, a guilty verdict could have led to a longer ban, so this approach makes sense. Accept the charge, take the – limited – medicine and be ready to go again when it really matters.
England’s Tom Curry has been handed a two-match ban for his red card against Argentina
However, it is a smart move from the Red Rose to accept the punishment as they will now be able to call upon the Sale flanker when they need him most later in the tournament
Billy Vunipola’s return negates some of the impact of Curry’s absence, for the game against Japan on Sunday.
The Saracens No 8 can return at the base of the scrum, meaning a likely switch to openside for Ben Earl, who was so impressive against Argentina.
A back-row combination of those two and Courtney Lawes appears to be balanced and should function well.
The following week, England take on Chile and it will be a routine victory. Head coach Steve Borthwick can opt to rotate his squad and provide precious game-time for others such as Lewis Ludlam – a force-of-nature replacement in the opening win – and Jack Willis. Curry’s absence won’t be keenly felt as the outcome is assured.
Billy Vunipola’s return negates some of the impact of Curry’s absence, for the game vs Japan
Steve Borthwick can then rotate his squad the following week when England take on Chile
He will be available again for the clash with Samoa in Lille two weeks later. That is perfect timing to reintegrate him, against dangerous Pacific island opponents who will be a threat, especially with Theo McFarland of Saracens and Bristol captain Steven Luatua among their back-rowers.
The fixture will provide game-time for Curry, so he is sharper and ready for a quarter-final in Marseille the following weekend.
So this is a frustrating setback for England; more disruption that they could have done without.
It leaves them without one of their world-class assets, but they can cope. Now, they just need to find a way to get through big matches without having anyone else sent off…
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