British and Irish Lions prop Kyle Sinckler is facing a minimum of three months on the sidelines if he’s found guilty of biting South Africa lock Franco Mostert in Saturday’s Test defeat.
The Bristol Bear has been cited for the alleged offence, which is said to have occurred in the 64th minute of the Lions’ 27-9 second Test loss at Cape Town Stadium.
Warren Gatland ’s men came into the second Test hopeful of wrapping up the series with time to spare, but they now find themselves in a much more precarious position.
And Sinckler is at risk of missing the decisive third encounter if a World Rugby panel decides he did intentionally bite his opponent.
Honda Heat lock Mostert, 30, could be seen going to ground in the same ruck as Sinckler in the second half, and the Springbok appeared to emerge clutching his right forearm.
Sinckler, 28, was the only player to receive a citation despite numerous incidents leading to drama and scuffles in an ill-tempered second half.
The tighthead prop was previously suspended for seven weeks after eye-gouging an opponent in 2017.
He was also handed a two-week ban for swearing at a referee in January, but a suspension for biting could keep him out of action for as much as 24 weeks if found guilty.
Team-mate Stuart Hogg was also accused of biting opposite number Wille le Roux, although the Scotland full-back was vehement in his denial after the game.
Hogg, 29, published a statement that read: “Following speculation that surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play.
“I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation.
“I have always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game. Respect to the Springboks for their deserved win.
“The squad is hurting — but it’s all to play for next week. It’s going to be a cup final and everyone’s going to be up for it.”
Sinckler is now scheduled to appear before an independent judicial committee via video call on Tuesday, when he will learn his fate regarding a potential ban if the citation is upheld.
Such a suspension would see the Bristol forward miss the start of the 2021/22 Premiership season, which is due to begin on September 17.
The Bears made it to the semi-finals last season before they were beaten by the eventual champions—his former employers, Harlequins —in extra time.
It could also have knock-on effects regarding Eddie Jones’ England selection for the autumn internationals, with Sinckler likely to be lacking match fitness in the event of a ban.