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Pape's 10-week ban upheld

Pascal Pape's RBS 6 Nations career has ended in acrimony after the France lock lost his appeal against a 10-week ban for kneeing Ireland's Jamie Heaslip in the back.

Pape had claimed the 10-week sanction was "excessive and disproportionate", but a Six Nations disciplinary committee threw out his case at a hearing in London.

The 34-year-old is set to retire from Test rugby after the autumn's World Cup: now his last meaningful Six Nations contribution has become the challenge that left Heaslip with three cracked vertebrae in his back.

"The appeal committee, having considered submissions on behalf of the player and on behalf of the Six Nations disciplinary officer, dismissed the appeal with the result that the original sanction of a 10-week suspension stands," read a Six Nations statement.

Stade Francais lock Pape was sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes for kneeing Heaslip in Ireland's 18-11 victory in Dublin on February 14.

The former Bourgoin second-row was later cited for the challenge, before being hit with his 10-week ban at a disciplinary hearing in London.

Pape was found to have struck Leinster star Heaslip deliberately in the original Six Nations hearing.

After losing his ban he will now be forced to sit out of action until May 18.

France boss Philippe Saint-Andre defended Pape in the wake of the challenge, claiming the contact with Heaslip's back was an accident.

Pape himself later apologised to Heaslip via Twitter, with the British and Irish Lions loose-forward fully accepting the social media sentiments.

Heaslip accepted Pape's apology, by tweeting: "@pascalpape thanks for your message. It's a physical game that we play and these things happen. I fully accept your apology."

France star Pape had claimed his actions were unintentional, but that did not find any merit with Six Nations bosses.

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