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Warburton pleads innocence after being banned for three weeks

By RugbyWorld_Cup  |  Posted: October 17, 2011

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Sam Warburton has moved to distance himself from any wrong doing in Wales’ semi-final defeat to France, insisting there was no malicious intent in the tackle that saw him red carded.

The 23-year-old had led Wales into the final four for the first time since the first World Cup back in 1987 but ensured they faced an uphill battle to reach their first final after being sent to the stands after only 18 minutes.

Irish referee Alain Rolland had adjudged his tackle on French wing Vincent Clerc to be dangerous and it was the end of the flanker’s and Wales’ World Cup hopes as Les Bleus ran out 9-8 winners.

But Warbuton, who now misses the third-fourth play-off with Australia in Auckland on Friday after being banned for three weeks, has come out fighting, adamant the decision to show him a red card was harsh.

"I'm obviously gutted, but there was no malicious intent,” he said.

"I felt like as soon as it hit him his bodyweight took control of what happened.

"I thought it was a normal tackle, next thing I was walking off into the stands.

"The courage and bravery the lads showed was second to none."

Both the red card and subsequent ban have sparked much debate in rugby circles but the International Rugby Board have backed referee Rolland with the decision to ban Warburton.

An IRB statement read: “The IRB memorandum issued on 8 June, 2009 stated that such tackles ‘must be dealt with severely by referees and those involved in the off-field disciplinary process.’”

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