Rugby Union: Sale suspend prop Smith for punching: Club take action after Morris is felled in full view of cameras

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The Independent Online
PAUL SMITH, the Sale prop, has been suspended for two weeks by his club after punching Dewi Morris, the England scrum-half, during the match against Orrell on Saturday. Smith's offence was missed by Jim Pearson, the referee, but the assault was highlighted on BBC's Rugby Special.

Sale officials held discussions over the weekend and last night issued a statement: 'Sale recognise that the behaviour of Paul Smith was not acceptable. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, the club have placed a two-week ban on the player.' Smith misses the league games at home to Gloucester and away to Wasps.

Orrell, however, had wanted Smith suspended for the statutory 60 days. 'He's a very lucky lad,' Phil Moss, the first-team coach, said, 'to have got 14 days. Sale should have meted out the correct punishment. This was only a token gesture. We are very disappointed.'

The punch was thrown after Morris went into a ruck and Smith, believing one of his colleagues had been stamped on, reacted violently. Paul Turner, Sale's player / coach, was mistakenly ordered off but remained on the pitch after protesting his innocence. Morris was treated in hospital, but fears that he had broken his jaw were unfounded.

Meanwhile, Richard Loe is in trouble again. The New Zealand prop whose disciplinary history includes being banned for six months for eye-gouging two years ago, was caught by cameras treading on John Timu, a fellow All Black, at a ruck in Canterbury's successful defence of the Ranfurly Shield against Otago on Saturday.

Steve Bale, page 35