Japan flanker Labuschagne suspended for Rugby World Cup opener

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Japan flanker Labuschagne suspended for Rugby World Cup opener
Labuschagne in action against South Africa
Labuschagne in action against South Africa
Reuters
South African born flanker Pieter Labuschagne (34) will miss Japan's Rugby World Cup Pool D opener against Chile in Toulouse on September 10 after being handed a suspension but he should be free to face England in a crunch fixture a week later.

Labuschagne was handed a three-match ban by World Rugby on Friday after receiving a red card for a dangerous tackle in Japan’s 35-12 loss to Fiji last week but will have his sanction reduced to two games if he takes part in a Coaching Intervention Programme.

World Rugby confirmed the player has indicated he will do so, meaning he will only sit out a final warm-up game against Italy on August 26, and the World Cup opener against Chile.

World Rugby’s independent judicial committee found the offence met the threshold for a six-match suspension but said there were mitigating circumstances and reduced his ban by half.

Those circumstances have not been revealed as the full judgement has not been published.

Labuschagne, who made his international debut in 2019, is the second Japanese player to be suspended in the last month. Captain and number eight Michael Leitch received an effective two-match ban following a red card against Samoa, but will be free to face Chile.

Japan reached the World Cup quarter-finals four years ago before losing to eventual champions South Africa. They also have Argentina and Samoa in their pool in France.

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