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Two-game ban for Lawes

England lock Courtney Lawes has been handed a two-game ban after being found guilty of recklessly striking an opponent with his knee and will miss the Pool B matches with Romania and Georgia, Rugby World Cup organisers have confirmed.

Lawes entered a not guilty plea when he appeared before a disciplinary hearing in Auckland after being cited for hitting Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma with his knee during Saturday's 13-9 win in Dunedin.

The offence carries a guideline suspension of between three and 12 weeks, or matches in the World Cup context, but Lawes' offence was deemed 'low end' and he will be free to play against Scotland in the final pool match in Auckland on October 1.

Lawes became the first player to be cited at the 2011 tournament and England have 48 hours from receipt of the full written decision in which to appeal.

His "excellent disciplinary record and remorse" were taken into account in the length of the ban.

A Rugby World Cup Ltd statement read: "Lawes, who pleaded not guilty, was suspended by independent judicial officer Terry Willis (Australia) in accordance with the Rugby World Cup 2011 disciplinary process.

"Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence from the player and submissions from his counsel, Richard Smith QC, the judicial officer upheld the citing on the basis that the player had committed an act of foul play.

"With respect to the sanction, the offence was deemed to be low-end (which has an entry point of three weeks).

"However, taking into account mitigating factors being his excellent disciplinary record and remorse and the absence of aggravating factors, the player was suspended for two weeks.

"In the context of the Rugby World Cup tournament a week equates to one match. Therefore, Lawes is suspended for two Rugby World Cup 2011 matches and is free to resume playing for England's Pool B match against Scotland in Auckland on October 1."


From Belfast Telegraph