| 5°C Belfast

England and Bath wing Anthony Watson handed two-week suspension


Anthony Watson was sent off in Bath's fixture against Saracens earlier this month

Anthony Watson was sent off in Bath's fixture against Saracens earlier this month

Anthony Watson was sent off in Bath's fixture against Saracens earlier this month

England wing Anthony Watson has been suspended for two weeks after being sent off during Bath's game against Saracens earlier this month.

Watson pleaded guilty to two charges of tackling Alex Goode while in the air and then using "offensive, inappropriate and unprofessional language and behaviour towards the fourth official".

The 22-year-old has been given a one-week ban for each charge and will not be available to play again until April 25.

It means Watson will miss Bath's next two matches, which are both against Sale, but could return for their final fixtures of the Aviva Premiership season against Northampton and Leicester.

Watson played every game in this year's Six Nations as England won their first Grand Slam since 2003.

An RFU statement read: "Watson was charged with tackling the player in the air, contrary to law 10.4(i) and conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or the Game, contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.

"Watson pleaded guilty to both charges and was given a two-week suspension (one week for each charge). He is free to play again on 25 April."

Goode was sent sprawling after being clattered by Watson while catching a high ball, but the Bath wing had been partially blocked by Chris Ashton en route, resulting in a collision that might otherwise have been avoided.

The England full-back was several feet in the air and almost landed on his head with only his outstretched arm preventing a nastier fall.

Goode refuses to view the incident as a deliberate act but while he wants to see aerial duels remain in the game, he insists players have a duty of care when challenging for the ball.

"I know that Anthony isn't a malicious player and he certainly didn't do that on purpose, but I think we all know that running up without looking is dangerous," Goode said.

"It's a duty of care. If someone jumps in the air and they have their eyes on the ball, if you don't try to go for the ball then you have to make sure they land safely.

"You don't want to get to the point where players are fearful of going up in the air and can be taken out without any consequences.

"When you're going up in the air you only have eyes on the ball so there's an element of trust. Ninety-nine times out of 100 nothing happens.

"Sometimes there are collisions in the air and that's just competing for the ball. Spectators want to see two players going up for it and showing their athleticism.

"But that's not where there problems occur, they're big collisions where you go for the ball, people dust themselves down and if they land awkwardly.

"It's more the ones where you get caught.....most of the times it isn't malicious, but there is a duty of care."