Bradley Davies suspended for the rest of the Six Nations

 

Wales lock Bradley Davies will miss the rest of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship after receiving a seven-week ban.

Davies' suspension, announced by Six Nations organisers after a disciplinary hearing in London today, comes following his citing for a reckless tip-tackle on Ireland replacement Donncha Ryan during last Sunday's clash in Dublin.

The Cardiff Blues forward, who has a right of appeal, cannot play again until March 26 - nine days after the tournament finishes.

A three-man disciplinary panel decided that Davies' offence merited a top-end entry point of a 10-week ban, with an additional two weeks applied for this type of foul play.

But mitigating factors - Davies' guilty plea, his previously good disciplinary record and his conduct at the hearing - saw a maximum reduction to the punishment of five weeks imposed.

Davies, 25, was cited by match commissioner, Italian Achille Reali, following the second-half incident at the Aviva Stadium.

Referee Wayne Barnes brandished a yellow card on the recommendation of his assistant Dave Pearson, but television replays revealed the full extent of Davies' actions, which should have undoubtedly warranted a straight red.

Even Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted that Davies was fortunate to avoid being sent off, so his ban should come as no surprise to a Welsh camp currently preparing for next Sunday's Six Nations appointment with Scotland in Cardiff.

The Six Nations disciplinary committee, chaired by Antony Davies (England) along with John Doubleday (England) and Jean-Noel Couraud (France), considered the citing report, television footage and listened to Davies' explanation.

In a statement, the Six Nations said: "They (the committee) found that the incident in which the player lifted his opponent beyond a horizontal position but did not bring him to the ground safely contrary to Law 10.4(j) and the IRB's (International Rugby Board's) particular emphasis on this aspect of the game, merited a top end entry to the IRB's table of sanctions.

"The committee applied an additional two weeks to the entry point of 10 weeks to reflect the need for a deterrent for this type of foul play.

"But, in mitigation, took account of various factors in the player's favour, including his admission of guilt, his previous good disciplinary record and his conduct at the hearing in allowing the maximum possible reduction of five weeks.

"Bradley Davies can resume playing on 26 March 2012, and has the right of appeal."

Davies, who has won 33 caps and made his Test debut against Scotland in 2009, will be available for Cardiff Blues' Heineken Cup quarter-final against holders Leinster on April 7.

But that will be of little comfort to him at the moment as he reflects on an episode that could easily have cost Wales victory in Dublin.

His absence also hands Gatland a second-row selection poser, with Davies now joining his fellow World Cup locks Alun-Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris on the sidelines.

Charteris and Jones are both injured, although Jones' could recover fitness from a toe injury to play some part in this season's Six Nations, which points to Ryan Jones being handed the number four shirt against Scotland.

Jones, who starred at blindside flanker against Ireland, has played lock for his regional team the Ospreys this season, and would be the obvious replacement for Davies, although Gatland also has uncapped Scarlets second-row Lou Reed in the Six Nations squad.

Davies is the second Wales player to be suspended for a tip-tackle this season following skipper Sam Warburton's dismissal during the World Cup last autumn.

Warburton was red-carded by Irish official Alain Rolland for a tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc during the World Cup semi-final in Auckland, an offence that saw him receive a three-week ban.

PA

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