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Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne suspended for two weeks over controversial challenge during Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Saracens

Off night: ref Garces red cards Jared Payne (15) to the dismay of captain Johann Muller (centre)
Off night: ref Garces red cards Jared Payne (15) to the dismay of captain Johann Muller (centre)

Ulster full-back Jared Payne has been suspended for two weeks for his challenge on Alex Goode during Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Saracens.

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Payne was controversially sent off in the fifth minute after running into Goode while the England threequarter jumped to catch a high ball at Ravenhill.

Goode was forced from the pitch with concussion, playing no further part in the game, and referee Jerome Garces showed Payne a red card.

An independent disciplinary hearing held in Dublin decided Payne had contravened Law 10.4(i) - tackling, tapping, pushing or pulling an opponent jumping for the ball in open play.

The panel upheld the red card and determined that Payne had committed a reckless act, but concluded the offence was at the low end of sanctions for this offence and issued a three-match ban.

As there were no aggravating factors and taking into account the player's clean disciplinary record and his exemplary conduct at the hearing, it was decided to reduce the suspension by one week.

Judicial officer Simon Thomas commented that the case had been a "particularly challenging one". Payne is free to play from April 21.

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