Earlier this year the Rugby Football Union wrote to World Rugby expressing concern that the latter’s regulations did not provide sufficient supervisory and intervention powers over unions when it came to disciplinary issues.

It is ironic now, given that World Rugby’s intervention last month earned the England prop Joe Marler a two-match ban and £20,000 fine after the Six Nations had opted to take no action against him for calling Wales’s Samson Lee “Gypsy boy”, but the RFU’s target was France and the perceived failure of its rugby federation to cite players for acts of foul play that elsewhere in Europe would result in a date with a disciplinary panel and banning players in accordance with World Rugby’s regulations.


At the end of January the Stade Français hooker Laurent Sempéré was suspended for 15 weeks after being found guilty of putting a hand near the eye area of the Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza in the European Champions Cup match between the sides. He had been cited for the offence and appeared before an independent disciplinary panel convened by the tournament organisers, along with his team-mate Paul Gabrillagues, who was given eight weeks after admitting making contact with the eye area of Dan Cole.

The week before, the Saracens wing Chris Ashton had been suspended for 10 weeks for a similar offence in the Champions Cup match against Ulster and missed the Six Nations having a few days earlier been recalled to the England squad. He completed his ban and returned to action at the beginning of this month.

Sempéré, meanwhile, was playing again for Stade within a month of his suspension despite not appealing against it. He profited from French law which, put simply, does not recognise the sanctity of bans laid down outside the country. Its code du sport means they have to be upheld in France to be applied internally.

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