Betsen banned for six weeks following reckless kick on Dawson

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The Independent Online

The France flanker Serge Betsen has been banned from all rugby for six weeks after being found guilty of kicking the England scrum-half Matt Dawson in Sunday's World Cup semi-final.

He was cited after the match and the International Rugby Board judicial officer, Terry Willis, an Australian, decided punishment was necessary. Willis accepted Betsen had not deliberately kicked Dawson in the incident which happened just before half-time, but judged that his actions were reckless.

Betsen had sent a letter to Dawson, apologising for the incident, and while Willis took that into consideration when deciding what punishment to mete out, the judicial officer insisted that the French player should not escape a ban.

"I explained to the judicial officer that I regretted the incident and that it was not something I did on purpose but a reflex," Betsen said.

The suspension will rule Betsen out of action until 29 December, meaning he will miss matches for his club side, Biarritz. He was not included in the France squad for today's third-place play-off against New Zealand.

Betsen is the fifth player banned for foul play during the tournament. The Scotland flanker Martin Leslie was suspended for 12 weeks for kneeing the United States centre Jason Keyter in the head during their Pool B match, but the ban was reduced to eight weeks on appeal.

The Fiji winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca was banned for two matches for punching the France flanker Olivier Magne, and the Argentina prop Roberto Grau was suspended for nine weeks and his front-row partner Mauricio Reggiardo for six after raking opponents' faces with their hands against Ireland.

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