Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Armitage banned again

Delon Armitage

London Irish and England full-back Delon Armitage has been banned for three weeks, little more than a month after returning from an eight-week suspension.

The 27-year-old, who missed the entire RBS 6 Nations campaign for pushing an anti-doping officer, was this time cited for striking Northampton stand-off Stephen Myler in the Aviva Premiership clash on April 23.

His ban, imposed after he pleaded guilty at a disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday afternoon, takes effect from May 4 until May 10 and then from May 24 to June 6.

It means Armitage misses sixth-placed Irish's final league game away to leaders Leicester this Saturday and also England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 29.

In a further blow to his hopes of World Cup selection, he will also be unavailable for England Saxons' opening game of the Churchill Cup against the United States in Northampton on June 4.

But, given that he could have been put out of the game for eight weeks again, the panel's decision does give him the chance to stake his claim in the rest of that competition. The Saxons face Tonga in Gloucester on June 12 and then either Canada, Russia or Italy A the following weekend.

Armitage was reported by independent citing officer Alan Mansell for hitting Myler after a tackle in the corner close to the end of the match. He faced a three-man RFU panel consisting of chairman Jeremy Summers, Philip Evans and Peter Budge.

Ben Foden has established himself as England's first choice full-back, but Armitage's ability to play at 15, centre or on the wing makes him a valuable option for team manager Martin Johnson.

He appealed unsuccessfully against his previous suspension, imposed for and verbally abusing the doping control officer, who approached him to conduct a routine test immediately after the Exiles' defeat to Bath on January 1.

On that unprecedented occasion the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett, branded his behaviour "completely unacceptable" and panel chairman Ian Unsworth QC said: "Mr Armitage was aggressive, bullying, persistent and threatening. He subjected the doping control officer to a volley of abuse."

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