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Tom Curry banned after red card in Rugby World Cup against Argentina

Tom Curry will miss England’s World Cup meetings with Japan and Chile after his red card against Argentina.

The flanker has been given a three-match pan by a disciplinary committee, which can be reduced to two on the successful completion of World Rugby coaching intervention programme, known informally as “tackle school”.

Curry made head-to-head contact with Pumas full back Juan Cruz Mallia inside three minutes of the contest in Marseille. A 14-man England went on to secure a much-needed 27-10 victory to open their tournament.

“The player accepted that foul play occurred and that the offence warranted a red card,” said a World Rugby statement communicating the committee’s decision.

“The committee noted that the offence carries a mandatory minimum mid-range sanction (six matches), and having considered the mitigating factors, including admission of foul play and correctness of the red card at the first opportunity, an exemplary disciplinary record, apology to the player and good character, reduced the sanction by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent.”

The Sale back rower does have a right to appeal the decision, but his acceptance of the red card would suggest that an appeal would be unlikely and Curry will next be able to feature in the final pool game against Samoa.

South Africa centre Jesse Kriel was not cited for an apparent head-to-head contact on Scotland’s Jack Dempsey during the Springboks’ Pool B win, with footage said not to have shown conclusive evidence of foul play.

Curry’s sending off was England’s fourth red card in their last six matches, though Freddie Steward’s dismissal against Ireland during the Six Nations was subsequently rescinded.

“It is clearly more difficult to [defend] with 14 men on the field,” defence coach Kevin Sinfield said on Sunday. “We have had to do that four times out of the last six. I thought we handled it really well [against Argentina], but I don’t want us to keep handling that. None of us do. We are a better team with 15 on the field. We will continue to do the work that we have been doing.”

England will be boosted by the availability of Billy Vunipola for their encounter with Japan in Nice on Sunday, with the number eight back able to play after serving his own two-match ban for his red card in the warm-up fixture against Ireland.

Billy Vunipola is back available for England against Japan (Getty Images)
Billy Vunipola is back available for England against Japan (Getty Images)

The Saracens forward could be brought straight in to the starting side, with Ben Earl shifting to the openside in Curry’s stead, while Lewis Ludlam and Jack Willis will also be in contention.

“Billy has got great physical presence and it’s great to have him back on the training field,” assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth said on Tuesday.

“But he’s a really smart player as well – he puts himself in great positions and he’s got great hands. He’s got more threat than just being a big ball carrier.

“He’s really smart and knows when to shift the ball and change the point of contact for other players as well. It’s great for us to have him available.”