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Dupuy still out of Six Nations after gouge ban cut by just a week

France scrum-half Julien Dupuy's six-month ban for gouging in last month's Heineken Cup match between his Stade Francais side and Ulster has been reduced by one week on appeal.

Dupuy, handed a 24-week ban last month, is now suspended for 23 weeks, the European Rugby Cup (ERC) said in a statement.

Dupuy, 26, was suspended for gouging flanker Stephen Ferris's eyes in an ill-tempered game won 23-13 by Ulster at Ravenhill.

"It's a very heavy sanction," Dupuy's Stade Francais club president Max Guazzini said after the appeal ruling.

"They (ERC) wanted to make an example. The player (Ferris) said himself there was no gouging. The fact that he (Dupuy) is French probably played a role."

The ban rules Dupuy, who has won six caps for France, out of this year's Six Nations championship and effectively means his season is over. He will be eligible to play again on May 27.

Dupuy's Stade team-mate David Attoub was also due to appear before a disciplinary hearing today.