Pascal Pape hit with 10-week ban for knee to the back of Jamie Heaslip
France forward Pascal Pape has been suspended for 10 weeks and will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations after he kneed Jamie Heaslip in the back during last Saturday's game against Ireland.
Pape, who has a right of appeal, was cited under Law 10.4 (a) and appeared in front of a disciplinary panel together with France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Wednesday.
Referee Wayne Barnes issued Pape with a yellow card during the match but the disciplinary committee decided it was an act of foul play which merited a red card and "should be categorised at the top end of World Rugby's scale of seriousness".
Yesterday Heaslip accepted Pape's Twitter apology for the crude incident during the victory over the visitors.
Heaslip suffered three fractured vertebrae in his back from the challenge that earned Pape a yellow card at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Pape tweeted: "Sincerely sorry to have injured @jamieheaslip in this action of the match, not at all my intention to do him any harm #objectivityforsome", on Tuesday night, just hours before his disciplinary hearing.
Irrespective of whether the Stade Francais second-row's move was designed to edge the independent panel towards leniency in his hearing, Leinster's loose forward Heaslip accepted the apology wholeheartedly.
Ulster's Iain Henderson, who could force his way into the starting team in Heaslip's absence, has backed Ireland to overcome the loss of the number 8 and use their collective spirit to stop England's high-flying individuals on Sunday week.
"We showed against Italy that we are able to play without him," he said. "Don't get me wrong, he's a massive loss, a senior player. We will miss him; however, I think we have the firepower to replace him and it will give some of the younger guys the opportunity.
"One thing that we like to target is our collective. They can be as big, individual and as aggressive as they want, but they won't beat our collective hits, our two-on-one tackles and how well we work as a team."