- England fullback Freddie Steward is off the hook after receiving a red card against Ireland.
- Steward was controversially sent off by South African referee Jaco Peyper.
- A disciplinary panel has downgraded the red card to a yellow card offence.
England fullback Freddie Steward is free to play after the red card he received against Ireland in Dublin at the weekend was rescinded.
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Steward was controversially sent off by South African referee Jaco Peyper after he made head contact with Ireland counterpart Hugo Keenan.
Steward and Keenan had both charged towards a loose ball. The England fullback braced for contact as Keenan looked to scoop up the ball, before the players made contact.
Peyper deemed Steward's actions were reckless and dished out a red card.
Red card for Freddie Steward pic.twitter.com/N6nVNx2qQN— RugbyLAD (@RugbyLAD7) March 18, 2023
The decision was slammed by many pundits, who claimed that Steward could have done little to get out of the way and avoid making contact.
A Six Nations disciplinary panel confirmed on Wednesday that the red card should have instead been a yellow.
The panel determined Steward "had been reckless in his actions and in his upright positioning as he approached and came into highly dangerous contact with the other player". However, mitigation applied "including the late change in the dynamics and positioning of the opposing player".
Steward will not serve any ban and is free to play with immediate effect. His escape, however, is too late for England as they lost the Six Nations game 29-16 in Dublin.
The panel also acknowledged that match officials are required to make "decisions under pressure and in the heat of a live match environment".