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Johnny Sexton: Ireland captain handed three-match ban but available for Rugby World Cup

Johnny Sexton will be suspended for Ireland's Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against Italy, England and Samoa in August after he admitted a misconduct charge following the Champions Cup final in May; Leinster were handed a suspended fine of £7,500

File photo dated 12-03-2022 of Ireland's Johnny Sexton who is eagerly anticipating facing France for the first time in three years after declaring himself fit for Saturday's "huge" Guinness Six Nations showdown. Issue date: Wednesday February 8, 2023.
Image: Ireland captain Johnny Sexton will be available for the Rugby World Cup

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has been hit with a three-game ban - but will be able to play in the Rugby World Cup later this year following a disciplinary hearing.

Sexton was charged with misconduct after engaging in a heated exchange with match officials following his club Leinster's Heineken Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle in May.

The 37-year-old fly-half - who has stated his intention to retire after the World Cup - did not play in Leinster's 27-26 defeat as he was still recovering from a groin injury.

However, an independent disciplinary committee found Sexton's behaviour 'confrontational and aggressive towards and disrespectful of the match officials'.

Johnny Sexton made his way onto the field to confront match officials following Leinster's Champions Cup defeat to La Rochelle in Dublin (PA Images)
Image: Sexton made his way onto the field to confront match officials following Leinster's Champions Cup defeat to La Rochelle in Dublin

The committee's report concluded: "It included his 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".

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

Sexton has been suspended for Ireland's World Cup warm-up games against Italy, England and Samoa, which take place next month ahead of their tournament opener against Romania in Bordeaux on September 9.

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The committee also handed Leinster a suspended fine of £7,500 after upholding the charge of misconduct against the club.

Both Sexton and Leinster have the right to appeal against the decisions by 4pm on Wednesday.

Sexton is working his way back to fitness after requiring surgery on a groin injury sustained during Ireland's Six Nations Grand Slam-securing win over England in March.

Ireland are hugely reliant on Sexton, the linchpin of the national team for over a decade who turned 38 this month.

While his understudy at Leinster, Ross Byrne, impressed when called upon during the Six Nations and Jack Crowley had a strong finish to Munster's United Rugby Championship winning season, neither are at the same level as Sexton.

While the ban will impact the Irish skipper's preparations, he has rarely needed much time to get up to speed following previous injuries and barely featured for Leinster last season before leading Ireland to the Grand Slam

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