sport

Armitage handed lengthy ban

Delon Armitage has received an eight-week ban after being cited for a tip tackle in the Heineken Cup game between Toulon and Montpellier.

The suspension was announced by European Rugby Cup following Toulon and England full-back Armitage's appearance at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin.

Armitage, who has a poor disciplinary record, pleaded not guilty to the offence, but his suspension means he cannot play again until March 18, which is three weeks before Toulon's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leicester.

Armitage was yellow-carded by referee Alain Rolland following the first-half incident that involved Montpellier full-back Pierre Berard, but a complaint was then made against Armitage by citing commissioner Shaun Gallagher.

Independent judicial officer Robert Williams heard evidence and submissions from Armitage and Toulon team manager Tom Whitford.

In a statement, ERC said: "The judicial officer upheld the citing complaint and found that Armitage had committed an intentional tip tackle.

"He determined that the act was in the mid-range of the IRB's (International Rugby Board's) sanctioning regime (eight weeks) and in line with the IRB's memorandum on deterring tip tackles, and taking into account the player's previous disciplinary record, he added a further two weeks.

"Due to Armitage's remorse and his good conduct during the hearing, the judicial officer then deducted two weeks before imposing a suspension of eight weeks."

Former London Irish player Armitage, 29, received an eight-week ban in early 2011 for pushing a doping officer and using abusive language when asked to provide a urine specimen after a Premiership game.

That was followed the same year by suspensions for striking an opponent during a league match, a dangerous high tackle on Bath wing Tom Biggs and for a high tackle during England's final pool fixture of the 2011 World Cup against Scotland.

Armitage has won 26 England caps, but he is not part of the current senior squad.

At a separate Dublin hearing, Rovigo centre Joe van Niekerk was banned for five weeks after being sent off for a tip tackle in an Amlin Challenge Cup game against Perpignan a week ago.

But a hearing for van Niekerk's team-mate, lock Jean Francois Montauriol, was adjourned until tomorrow. Montauriol was cited for an alleged stamp, also in the match with Perpignan.