Armitage ban appeal set for next week

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The Independent Online

England full-back Delon Armitage will have his appeal against an eight-week ban heard in London next Thursday.

Armitage, 27, was suspended until 16 March – ruling him out of the majority of the Six Nations Championship – for pushing and verbally abusing an anti-doping officer after London Irish's Premiership defeat to Bath on 1 January. The case was without precedent in England. The Rugby Football Union's chief disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett, equated the offence to abuse of a match official and branded Armitage's behaviour as "completely unacceptable".

London Irish had last month confirmed Armitage's intent to appeal, claiming that the punishment was "disproportionate".

The club said: "Delon does not accept the incident is analogous to abuse of a match official and he believes applying a tariff to on-field offences, when this was an incident largely in the privacy of the dressing room, has resulted in the imposition of a disproportionate sanction."

The three-man appeals panel will be chaired by Ian Unsworth QC and includes Gareth Rees QC and Dr Julian Morris.