Williams' season-ending ban sours Ulster's day
NICK WILLIAMS (right) will miss the rest of Ulster's season after receiving an eight-week ban for striking Cardiff Blues back Rhys Patchell last Friday night.
The decision of the Guinness Pro12 disciplinary committee took the shine off a good day for the northern province after they had earlier confirmed the signing of All Black Charles Piutau on a two-year deal from July 2016 believed to be worth €1.5m.
However, for now they will be without one of their more impactful players during the Pro12 run in after a three-man panel issued a 16-week ban, with eight weeks suspended due to mitigating factors. Given the number of games left in the season, he will be unavailable until September 1.
The committee found that Williams' action was at the top of the World Rugby scale, but he has the right to appeal. The former Munster No 8 could be on the way out of Ravenhill at the end of next season to help make way for 14-time All Black Piutau.
Landing the 23-year-old is a major coup for incoming director of rugby Les Kiss, but the Australian will need to re-jig his overseas options to comply with IRFU rules with Williams and South African Louis Ludik most at risk.