Johnny Sexton unlikely to miss any World Cup games but could sit out warm-ups
A 24-week ban has been mentioned but there would need to be an almighty smoking gun.
Johnny Sexton has questions to answer after reportedly receiving a misconduct letter from the EPCR but any sanction should not roll over into the World Cup. It may affect Ireland's preparations, though.
Aside from the Top 14, which has its' final in Paris this weekend, the European rugby scene is almost wrapped up with a bow. Saying that, Steve Borthwick has an England training squad on the go and both Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman linked up with the Springboks to train under Jacques Nienaber and his latest squad.
Most of the major questions have been resolved but there is a fresh one in the ether, after news of Sexton's misconduct letter broke - will the Ireland captain miss any games?
The 37-year-old is said to have received the EPCR letter late last week but a tournament spokesperson did not confirm whether that was the case, replying only, 'No comment'. That could be as the issue is ongoing. Sexton has the right to reply and Leinster could either accept the charge or contest some of the elements.
Johnny Sexton could yet miss Ireland matches
What complicates the matter somewhat is Johnny Sexton has officially finished up, in a playing capacity, with Leinster although he is contracted up with them and the IRFU until the end of the World Cup.
Matty Hardy, the City A.M journalist that broke the letter story, has written a follow-up piece speculating that Sexton could receive any number of sanctions, with a possible 24-week ban even mentioned. Unless there is a smoking gun SportsJOE is unaware of, this is highly, highly unlikely.
Sexton was brought up on three misconduct raps so the EPCR sanction may have to go beyond a sternly worded letter, though. Other top rugby nations know well of the half-time tunnel skirmish [more a war of words than anything] and the injured Leinster captain trying to approach match referee Jaco Peyper to share his thoughts after the Champions Cup final loss to La Rochelle. Tournament organisers need to show that match officials have their backing and Sexton's actions were inappropriate on the day.
If any ban is handed down, it would only carry into the warm-up games, and could be as much as the home matches against Italy and England. To that end, it would deny Sexton a final Aviva Stadium game, meaning his last match at the venue would have been the Grand Slam clincher against England. Not a bad way to sign off.
The outhalf would then be free to face Samoa in the final warm-up game. Ireland facing Romania in their World Cup opener would offer another chance for Sexton to improve his match fitness.
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