Six Nations 2015: Pascal Pape hits out at 10-week ban

France lock brands tournament-ending ban for kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back "a very harsh decision"

Pascal Pape has hit out at being banned for 10 weeks for kneeing Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip in the back.

The 34-year-old Stade Français lock was slapped with the lengthy suspension by an RBS 6 Nations Disciplinary Committee after the incident in France’s 18-11 defeat in Dublin on Saturday.

Pascal Pape had committed an act of foul play which merited a red card rather than the on-field yellow card given by the Match Officials

Six Nations Disciplinary Committee

The strike, which resulted in damage to Heaslip’s transverse process, happened in the 52nd minute of the match and resulted in referee Wayyne Barnes brandishing a yellow card, but the player was later cited for it.

The player described the sanction by the Disciplinary Committee as “a very harsh decision” for an incident that was still not intentional, despite its nature.

The Six Nations Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Rod McKenzie (Scotland), with Bill Dunlop (Scotland) and Ian Unsworth QC (England), determined that the player had “committed an act of foul play which merited a red card rather than the on-field yellow card”.

The veteran forward had earlier tweeted an apology to Heaslip, which was accepted by the Leinster captain, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Six Nations Disciplinary Committee handing him a hefty ban for his moment of madness.

A statement released by the tournament organisers on Thursday afternoon confirmed that the committee decided to throw the book at Pape for his actions.

“The Disciplinary Committee decided that the offence should be categorised at the top end of World Rugby’s scale of seriousness and set an entry point of a 15-week suspension,” said the statement.

“It noted further the absence of aggravating factors and the existence of certain mitigating factors, including the player’s admission of foul play and his expressions of remorse for what had occurred and the injury sustained by his opponent, in applying a five week (33 per cent) reduction from the entry point.

“Pascal Pape is suspended for 10 weeks and has the right of appeal.”

Pape had been named in Philippe Saint-Andre’s 30-man squad to face Wales in Paris on 28 February, but will miss France’s remaining three Six Nations matches against Wales, Italy and England as well as Stade’s Top 14 matches against Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse.

The ban, which is due to end at midnight on Sunday 26 April 2015, means that the next game he could take part in is the Parisian derby against Racing Metro at the Stade Yves Du Manoir on 7/8 May.

Clermont Auvergne lock Sebastien Vahaamahina takes Pape’s place in the France squad.

Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking.

A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).

MORE: Six Nations 2015: Scottish Rugby Union to appeal Finn Russell’s ban for dangerous tackle

MORE: Six Nations 2015: France drop Rory Kockott for match against Wales

MORE: Six Nations 2015: Scotland lock Richie Gray ruled out of tournament with arm injury

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