Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Niall Armstrong suspended for three games

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Niall Armstrong has been handed a three-game suspension following his red-card incident in the recently concluded Gallagher Premiership game against Northampton Saints.

Armstrong was sent-off by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys in the 69th minute after striking Northampton fly-half Fin Smith in the face. This was also the first red card incident in the ongoing Gallagher Premiership campaign.

The 24-year-old faced an independent disciplinary committee on Tuesday and was handed a three-game ban that could be reduced by a week if he successfully completes the World Rugby to undertake the Coaching Intervention Programme.

Armstrong will now miss Exeter's upcoming games against Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons.

Earlier, Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter insisted that Armstrong 's actions were not deliberate.

"It's not a deliberate action and it's not an unnatural action," Baxter said.

"But you literally have to sit with referees and show them 20 or 30 for them to understand, as however you look at it it doesn't look right.

"But when you see the guys catching on a regular basis as soon as you make any movement to lean your upper body back a leg will naturally come out to balance you, that's the only balance you can make with the arms to your chest.

"I looked at a load of kicks in a load of games and they all looked very similar, it's just positioning of the opposition body that changes the scenario."