Brian O'Driscoll escapes with three-week ban for stamp


If Brian O'Driscoll did not exactly have the book thrown at him by an independent Six Nations disciplinary panel – his bid for a fourth consecutive British and Irish Lions trip to the southern hemisphere remains wholly intact – the three-week ban he received for stamping on the Italian flanker Simone Favaro in Rome last week may have serious ramifications for those around him.

O'Driscoll will miss two Pro12 league games for Leinster – and not any old games, either. The first of them is this weekend's meeting with table-topping Glasgow in Dublin; the second an even more significant challenge for the reigning European champions, against title favourites Ulster, also on home soil. The celebrated centre will also be unavailable for his province's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final at Wasps on 5 April.

The 34-year-old midfielder, generally acknowledged to be the one genuinely great player to emerge in these islands over the last dozen years, admitted committing an act of foul play by stamping on Favaro's chest – a hot-headed lapse that earned him only his second yellow card in his long professional career. However, he also argued the offence had not been so bad as to warrant a full sending-off.

This was not an opinion that impressed the panel, chaired by Robert Williams of Wales, who decided that he should indeed have been sent packing. Fortunately for O'Driscoll, they took into account his "exemplary previous playing and disciplinary record" in lopping two weeks off a five-week suspension. He is therefore free to resume playing on 8 April.

On the English Premiership front, Bath finally confirmed the signing of the England back Jonathan Joseph from London Irish – a good piece of recruitment business that has been on the cards. Joseph, virtually certain to tour Argentina with the national team this summer, can play in any of the outside back positions. He is likely to be joined at the Recreation Ground next season by two of his current club-mates, the promising full-back Anthony Watson and the versatile back-five forward Matt Garvey.

Meanwhile, Wasps believe they have struck a solid blow on the transfer front by signing the 23-year-old prop Jake Cooper-Woolley from Cardiff Blues. Cooper-Woolley, born in Dorking and once involved with the Harlequins age-group set-up, led Cardiff University in 2012 and has gained senior experience with the Welsh league side Bedwas.