Ten-week ban for Pape

Pascal Pape has been banned for 10 weeks
Pascal Pape has been banned for 10 weeks

France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks and will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations after he kneed Jamie Heaslip in the back during last Saturday's game against Ireland.

Pape, who has a right of appeal, was cited under Law 10.4 (a) and appeared in front of a disciplinary panel together with France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Wednesday.

Referee Wayne Barnes issued Pape with a yellow card during the match but the disciplinary committee decided it was an act of foul play which merited a red card and "should be categorised at the top end of World Rugby's scale of seriousness".

Law 10.4 (a) forbids a player from punching or striking an opponent and Pape could have been banned for up to 15 weeks.

His punishment was, however, reduced given what the committee referred to as "the player's admission of foul play and his expression of remorse for what had occurred".

The lock issued an apology on Tuesday via social media to Heaslip, who damaged three vertebrae in the incident and will miss Ireland's next game against England.

Heaslip accepted Pape's apology, tweeting: "@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology."

Pape's suspension represents a blow for France, who lost 18-11 in Dublin and are now third in the table after two matches played.

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