Rugby World Cup
Scotland rue impact of 'justice delayed' for Ross Ford and Jonny Gray
PA Sport
October 17, 2015
Ford and Gray boost Scotland's hopes

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson lamented the impact that the overturned bans for forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have had on Scotland's preparations for their World Cup quarterfinal against Australia.

Hooker Ford and lock Gray thought their tournament was over after they were punished for a two-man tip tackle on Samoa's Jack Lam with three-match bans.

But they are now free to face the Wallabies in Sunday's quarter-final clash at Twickenham after winning a shock appeal with just 24 hours for head coach Vern Cotter to decide if he is going to rejig his side.

The decision to ban the duo angered the Scotland camp, with chief Dodson labelling the punishment "unduly harsh".

Jonny Gray
Jonny Gray© ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

And while Scottish Rugby made it clear they were only challenging the length of the punishment when appealing the decision, Dodson remains angry the Scots have been made to fret on the case all week.

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"We are delighted to see justice has been done," Dodson said. "Ross and Jonny are now free to rejoin the tournament, ahead of the biggest game for Scottish Rugby in recent years.

"We find it hugely disappointing they were put in this position by a judicial process, which is inconsistent and unfair. Justice delayed is justice denied.

"It is regrettable that this has overshadowed a massive week for the sport and our focus continues to be on the match against Australia."

The Scots lodged their appeal on Friday but Cotter was so pessimistic about their chances that he went ahead and named his side to face the Wallabies without them.

However, in a surprise move, World Rugby disciplinary bosses have now overturned the suspension.

Having prepared all week with Ford's understudy hooker Fraser Brown and back-up second-rower Tim Swinson in his starting line-up, Cotter faces a difficult choice as he ponders recalling experienced number two Ford and Gray, a man already tipped as a potential future Scotland captain.

A spokesman for the Dark Blues would only say: "Both Ross and Jonny are available to play and the Scotland team are considering their options."

Ford and Gray were found guilty by independent Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC of a dangerous challenge which saw Lam's head driven into the ground at a ruck clear-out during last weekend's final Pool B match in Newcastle.

Quinlan raised eyebrows, though, when he chose to ignore the views of match referee Jaco Peyper, who saw the incident live but decided it did not pose a risk to the Samoan flanker.

Even with Ford and Gray back in their line-up, flanker Blair Cowan admits the Dark Blues have never faced a bigger challenge.

The Scots will march into London looking to claim a semi-final slot for the first time in 24 years.

But to take that giant next step they will have to fight off a side which Cotter believes are favourites to go all the way.

However, London Irish back-rower Cowan - also given a second chance when he was called in to replace the injured Grant Gilchrist after missing out on the original squad - insists he will not blink as he stares down the Wallabies.

He said: "I'm very aware that this is probably the biggest game of my life. At the same time I've got a job to do and processes I need to go through before the game and I want to stay on task for that.

"We are aware that everybody is writing us off but if you don't have self-belief that you can genuinely win then there's no point going out."

© PA Sport

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