Northampton are considering an appeal against the 32-week suspension imposed on their England squad flanker Calum Clark, the player responsible for leaving the Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins with a broken elbow following an unpleasant incident during the Anglo-Welsh Cup final at Worcester a fortnight ago.
However, it is now clear that Clark might have been banned for much longer. The Rugby Football Union published its full appraisal of the case yesterday, revealing that Judge Jeff Blackett, the chief disciplinary officer, cut the sentence by 50 per cent, largely on account of the player's remorse.
Clark told the hearing that he was so upset at the injury he inflicted on Hawkins by yanking his arm at a ruck after the whistle that he "played the rest of the game in a fog". The 22-year-old Teessider added that he was finding it "hard to deal with how others now think of me as a player" and that he was afraid local parents might object to their children being coached by someone perceived as violent.
Blackett accepted that Clark had not sought to hurt Hawkins. Had there been evidence of intent, he said, the suspension could have been as long as five years.
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