Italy pair banned for tip-tackle at Rugby World Cup


Tokyo (AFP)

Two Italian props Sunday received three-match bans for a joint tip-tackle on South African Duane Vermeulen that leaves coach Conor O'Shea with a front-row headache for his last Rugby World Cup match.

Prop Andrea Lovotti received a red card on the field for picking Vermeulen up and dumping him on his head -- an act branded as "crass stupidity" by O'Shea, who saw his team go on to lose 49-3.

Replacement prop Nicola Quaglio escaped on-field sanction but was later cited for his part in the same tackle. He admitted it was an act of foul play, but argued it did not warrant a red card.

However, the committee decided that "the dynamics of the tackle were affected by the actions of both players" and banned Quaglio for three games.

Quaglio was on the pitch as a replacement for Marco Ricconi, who himself came off the bench for prop Simone Ferrari. The dearth of specialist front-row forwards resulted in uncontested scrums for most of the match.

O'Shea faces a selection crisis for Saturday's must-win clash with New Zealand.

"We've a good few injuries, a good few knocks and bruises from today, especially at tight-head. We'll see what the best 23 we can get fit and on the pitch for next week," admitted the Irishman after the South Africa match.