(Reuters) – Samoa’s Rey Lee-lo and Motu Matu’u have been cited for dangerous high tackles on Vasily Artemyev in Tuesday’s 34-9 Rugby World Cup victory over Russia in Kumagaya, tournament organisers announced on Wednesday.
Lee-lo and Matu’u were only given yellow cards by referee Romain Poite after the television match official reviewed the tackles on Russia captain Artemyev within two minutes of each other in the first half.
“Samoa centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u have been cited for acts of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous high tackle),” tournament organisers said in a statement.
The pair will attend hearings before an independent judicial committee chaired by Wang Shao Ing who will be joined by former internationals John Langford (Australia) and Olly Kohn (Wales).
The hearings will take place in Tokyo on a date to be agreed with both players and their representatives.
Russia coach Lyn Jones slammed the referee’s decision not to hand out more severe punishments, saying two red cards in two minutes could have changed the course of the game.
His views were echoed by former international referee Rob Debney, who added a Russian player could have been killed.
“First, Lee-Lo hit Artemyev in the head. He should have been sent off,” Debney wrote in his column for The Times newspaper.
“Poite… concluded that it should be a red card and… after a suggestion from the TMO, reduced it to a yellow on the grounds that Artemyev had dipped, which wasn’t the case. Lee-Lo could have killed him.
“What’s more, because of that precedent, he had to give Matu’u a yellow too, even though there was head-on-head contact. It even looked like Matu’u had knocked himself out. If I were a Russia player, I would be feeling aggrieved.”
World Rugby had issued a statement on Tuesday conceding that the officiating over the first weekend of the tournament was not up to scratch and promising it would improve.
Samoa winger Ed Fidow was warned by the citing commissioner for foul play contrary to Law 9.12 — which relates to punching or striking — in the match against Russia.
“This remains on his disciplinary record in the event that he accumulates any combination of three warnings or yellow cards during the tournament,” organisers added.
Samoa earned a bonus-point in the Russia game and head into their second game next Monday against Scotland in Kobe.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)