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Saturday 19 April 2014

Brian O'Driscoll suspended for three weeks for stamping incident against Italy

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND centre Brian O' Driscoll has been suspended for three weeks for stamping by a Six Nations disciplinary committee, tournament organisers have announced.

An independent Six Nations disciplinary committee convened in London today decided the offence was in the mid-range of severity, but deducted two weeks on account of his "exemplary previous playing and disciplinary record".

The 34-year-old will miss Leinster's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wasps on April 5 but his ban expires three days later, making him available for the latter stages of the RaboDirect PRO12 title push.

O'Driscoll, playing in what is thought to have been his 125th and final Test for Ireland, was sent to the sin-bin for only the second time in his 14-year professional career in the 22-15 loss at the Stadio Olimpico.

The 34-year-old lifted his right leg and brought it down on to the chest of Favaro, the Italy openside, who yelled out in pain.

At today's hearing, the 2005 Lions captain admitted he had committed an act of foul play but denied it warranted a red card.

The disciplinary committee, chaired by Robert Williams of Wales, however, upheld the citing complaint and decided the offence should have been punished with a sending off.

A statement released by tournament organisers read: "In applying the sanction, it was considered that the stamp, contrary to Law 10.4(b), was in the mid range of the IRB's sanctions for the type of offence.

"After hearing from Brian O'Driscoll and his representatives, a reduction of two weeks of mitigation was allowed, particularly taking into account the player's exemplary previous playing and disciplinary record.

"Brian O'Driscoll is suspended until 8 April 2013 and has the right of appeal."

The act was out of character for O'Driscoll and was evidence of his frustration, as Ireland slumped to a first Six Nations defeat by Italy and their worst championship performance since 1999.

If Saturday's encounter in Rome is to be his final match, a yellow card and dismal loss is not the way the finest player his country has produced would have liked to have bowed out.

O'Driscoll's contract expires in the summer and while publicly he has stated he is undecided over his future, it is thought that in private he views the forthcoming British & Irish Lions tour as his farewell.

It will be his fourth tour with the Lions and a Test series victory over Australia would offer a fitting farewell for one of the game's greatest players.

The attrition rate of recent matches has taken its toll - against France alone he was concussed and sustained a lacerated ear and dead leg - while ankle surgery forced him to miss the autumn.

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