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Johnny Sexton banned but can captain Ireland in France


By Sam Worthington with AP

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton will be available for the Rugby World Cup despite being found guilty of bringing the game “into disrepute” by abusing officials.

Wearing a shirt and jacket, an injured Sexton confronted referee Jaco Peyper and other officials on the pitch after Leinster’s 27-26 loss to La Rochelle in the Champions Cup final on May 20.

European Professional Club Rugby’s disciplinary committee said Sexton’s tirade included “pointing his finger at them and shouting at them something to this effect: ‘it’s a disgrace you guys can’t get the big decisions right’ probably accompanied by expletives ‘most likely the f-word’.”

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Sexton is one of Ireland’s greatest ever players and has been a key figure in their rise to the world No.1 ranking.

The 38-year-old five-eighth will miss warm-up games against Italy, England and Samoa but will be available for Ireland’s World Cup opener against Romania on September 9.

Sexton admitted the misconduct charge.

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“The disciplinary committee found his behavior confrontational and aggressive towards and disrespectful of the match officials,” a statement said.

“His conduct was obviously unsportsmanlike and brought the sport of rugby union into disrepute.”

Ireland are considered one of the favourites for the World Cup along with France, New Zealand and South Africa.

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