France prop Uini Atonio has been banned for his country’s remaining three Six Nations games for his shoulder to the head of Ireland hooker Rob Herring – but he may only have to miss two matches.
Atonio only received a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes during Ireland’s 32-19 win at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, with the English official coming in for plenty of criticism for his decision.
Ireland hooker Herring had to leave the field for a HIA and is now a doubt for the game against Italy on February 25.
Atonio was handed a six-match ban by Six Nations authorities – who then lopped off 50% for ‘the player’s immediate admission of guilt, his exemplary disciplinary record and genuine remorse’.
The La Rochelle prop could benefit from a further reduction in his ban if he completes a Coaching Intervention Programme known by many as ‘tackle school’, which would allow him to miss only two matches.
If Atonio completes the programme, he will only miss France's home game with Scotland and their trip to Twickenham. He would be available for France’s final match against Wales in the Stade de France.
The ban reduction also means he will be available for Ronan O’Gara as La Rochelle host Gloucester in the Champions Cup last 16 in April.