Armitage gets eight-week ban for tip tackle

24 Jan 2013 19:47:13

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Former England full-back Delon Armitage was banned for eight weeks on Thursday for a dangerous tip tackle carried out in Toulon's European Cup pool defeat by French rivals Montpellier last weekend.

Armitage was yellow-carded by Irish referee Alain Rolland following the first-half incident that saw him penalised for his challenge on Montpellier full-back Pierre Berard.

However, citing commissioner Shaun Gallagher decided the incident was worthy of further scrutiny and a European Rugby Cup independent disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday ruled Armitage had committed an "intentional tip tackle".

Armitage, as things stand, is free to play again on March 18.

Both the 29-year-old player, who is not in England's current Six Nations squad, and ERC have the right of appeal.

Toulon, whose squad includes England great Jonny Wilkinson, lost 23-3 to Montpellier but still qualified for the knockout stages of the European Cup as Pool Six winners.

Now they will face two-time former champions and English giants Leicester in the quarter-finals on April 7.

This is not the first time former London Irish favourite Armitage, capped 26 times by England, has been in trouble with disciplinary authorities.

At the start of 2011 he received an eight-week ban for pushing a doping officer and using abusive language when asked to provide a urine sample after a Premiership game.

And the same year also saw him suspended on several more occasions, first for striking an opponent during a league match, a dangerous high tackle on Bath wing Tom Biggs and for a high tackle during England's final pool fixture of the 2011 World Cup against Scotland.

Meanwhile Thursday also saw Joe van Niekerk, of Italian side Rovigo, given a five-week ban for a "reckless tip tackle" after being sent off in last week's European Challenge Cup match away to French club Perpignan.

He will be free to play on February 25 although, as in Armitage's case, both van Niekerk and ERC have the right of appeal.

The issue of tip-tackling, now considered by rugby union chiefs to be one of the sport's most dangerous acts of foul play, was highlighted when Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off by Rolland for the offence during the 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat by France in Auckland.

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