Harlequins prop Joe Marler will miss the opening two rounds of England's upcoming Six Nations title defence after he has slammed with a six-week ban following his red-card incident in the recently concluded Aviva Premiership face-off against Sale Sharks.
The send-off came in the 57th minute of the game at AJ Bell Stadium when he was found striking TJ Ioane with the shoulder and his red-card affected Harlequins as they went on to lose the game 30-29.
The 27-year-old appeared before an independent Rugby Football Union (RFU) disciplinary panel on Tuesday in London where he was proved guilty of the charges.
Chairman of the independent disciplinary panel Philip Evans QC said: "The panel found that contact was made with the head of TJ Ioane and as a result the mandatory entry point is mid-range.
"The panel considered that the player's previous record was such that it required an additional period of suspension of one week.
"However, because of his plea, his conduct since the incident took place and other personal mitigation, the panel allowed some reduction."
As a result, Marler will miss England's Six Nations' campaign against Italy and Wales and will be free to return to action for the Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 24.
Meanwhile, Ioane himself was cited after charges of him striking Marler with the arm in the 53rd minute of the same game and was handed two-week suspension.
Ioane will be able to play again on January 23, so must sit out two European Rugby Challenge Cup matches.