Scotland duo have ban reversed

Ross Ford has had his ban revoked
Ross Ford has had his ban revoked

Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have had their three-week bans successfully repealed and are now cleared to face Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Hooker Ford and lock Gray were originally punished for a two-man tip tackle on Samoa's Jack Lam.

The Scottish Rugby Union lodged an appeal but head coach Vern Cotter was so pessimistic about their chances of winning their appeal 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 - freeing both players to run out at Twickenham.

But, having prepared all week with Ford's understudy hooker Fraser Brown and Gray’s replacement-in-waiting Tim Swinson, Cotter now has to decide whether to re-jig his team with just 24 hours to go before kick-off.

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 banned after they were found guilty by independent Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC of a dangerous tip tackle that saw Lam's head driven into the ground at a ruck clear-out during last weekend's 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 but decided it did not pose a risk to the Samoan flanker.

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

However, when they announced their decision to appeal, the SRU made it clear they were only challenging the length of the punishment.

However in a surprise move, World Rugby announced their appeal verdict on Saturday afternoon following a hearing in central London, that saw the original decision reversed completely.

In a statement, the governing body said: "Ross Ford and Jonny Gray (Scotland) are free to resume playing with immediate effect after successfully appealing against their three-week suspension for acts of foul play contrary to Law 10.4(j) (dangerous tackles).

"The appeal took place today at the London offices of the official law firm for Rugby World Cup 2015 Clifford Chance and was heard by an Appeal Committee, chaired by the Honourable Justice Lex Mpati (South Africa), sitting with Justice Graeme Mew (Canada) and Robbie Deans (New Zealand)

"Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence, including new submissions from the players and their representatives, along with all available camera angles, the Appeal Committee dismissed the finding that the players had committed an act of foul play as the player had not been dropped or driven and therefore the tackle was not dangerous.

"The players are therefore free to play again immediately."