Ireland wait to learn Johnny Sexton disciplinary hearing fate ahead of World Cup

Ireland wait to learn Johnny Sexton disciplinary hearing fate ahead of World Cup

Johnny Sexton faces a disciplinary hearing on Thursday that could see the outcome impact Ireland’s World Cup preparations.

The Ireland captain had a misconduct complaint lodged against him following his behaviour towards match officials in the wake of Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup final defeat by La Rochelle on May 20.

Sexton did not play in the game at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium due to his continued recovery from a groin injury.

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton after the Heineken Champions Cup final between Leinster and La Rochelle (Brian Lawless/PA)

But he went on to the pitch after the match – Leinster lost 27-26 – and became involved in what appeared to be a heated exchange with South African referee Jaco Peyper and other match officials.

Tournament organiser European Professional Club Rugby submitted misconduct complaints against 37-year-old Sexton and Leinster following what it described as a “thorough fact-finding and careful review” of Sexton’s actions, and also Leinster for not exercising reasonable control over their player.

Sexton, who intends to retire after the World Cup in France later this year, will appear by video conference call before an independent disciplinary panel chaired by Christopher Quinlan KC.

Ireland’s opening World Cup warm-up match is against Italy on August 5, followed by appointments later that month with England and Samoa.

Johnny Sexton
La Rochelle beat Leinster 27-26 in the Heineken Champions Cup final (Brian Lawless/PA)

Their first World Cup game sees them tackle Romania in Bordeaux on September 9, so a suspension for Sexton has potential to affect his availability.

Announcing the disciplinary, EPCR said: “Misconduct complaints against the Leinster Rugby player, Johnny Sexton, and against Leinster Rugby, arising from the Heineken Champions Cup final on Saturday May 20 2023, have been lodged by EPCR.

“After thorough fact-finding and careful review of Johnny Sexton’s behaviour towards match officials after the match, in accordance with EPCR regulations, the EPCR disciplinary officer has submitted misconduct complaints so that an independent disciplinary panel can determine whether any misconduct has been committed by Mr Sexton (through his behaviour) and Leinster (through failing to exercise reasonable control over Mr Sexton).”