Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations championship after losing his appeal against a six-week ban for kicking France wing Alexis Palisson.
Flannery pleaded guilty to the charge at an independent disciplinary hearing in Dublin last month and was ruled out of the remaining Six Nations fixtures.
The Irish camp nevertheless opted to contest the verdict in a bid to get the length of the ban reduced, but an independent Six Nations appeals committee today upheld the original decision.
"The appeal lodged by Jerry Flannery against the extent of his six-week sanction for kicking an opponent in the RBS 6 Nations match between France and Ireland has been dismissed," read a statement.
"An independent Six Nations appeal committee, chaired by HH Judge Jeff Blackett (England), sitting alongside Douglas Hunter (Scotland) and Marco Cordelli (Italy), met today at a London (Heathrow) hotel and considered the submissions made by and on behalf of Jerry Flannery, together with the cross-appeal made by the Six Nations Disciplinary Officer, which was also dismissed.
"The appeal committee upheld the original disciplinary committee's finding that the act of foul play was in the mid-range of offending defined by IRB regulation 17 and that the level of net mitigation applied was within the correct margin of appreciation."
Rory Best of Ulster has taken over the hooking duties for Ireland in Flannery's absence, and started Saturday's victory over England at Twickenham.
Flannery admitted he had deserved a red card for scything down Palisson in the 33-10 defeat in Paris on February 13, with the France back subsequently limping out of the game with a dead leg.
The disciplinary panel found the Munster star had been reckless but not deliberate in his actions and decided the offence was mid-range in its severity.
Flannery's plea and the remorse he showed for Palisson's injury persuaded the panel to cut the suspension back from a potential eight weeks.
Ireland called for the ban to be reduced given the act was, in the words of head coach Declan Kidney, "awkward rather than deliberate".