IRFU confirm that Jamie Heaslip will miss England showdown but could return for Wales
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip is facing four weeks on the sidelines and will miss the crucial clash with England after Pascal Pape's knee to his back resulted in fractures to three of his vertebrae, the IRFU has confirmed.
France lock Pascal Pape will face a disciplinary hearing for the knee to the back but Heaslip may yet play a part in Ireland's clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium (March 14) and Scotland in Murrayfield (March 21).
The IRFU statement read: "Scans have revealed fractures of the transverse process of three vertebrae in Jamie's back.
"Although this injury causes a good deal of discomfort it does not impact on the structural integrity of the spine, and once healed should pose no long term issues. Typically this injury is treated akin to a soft tissue injury; according to symptoms.
"Jamie is already feeling more comfortable and it is hoped that he will be available to play again in approximately four weeks."
Pape was sin-binned for kneeing Heaslip in a ruck in Ireland's 18-11 victory in Dublin on Saturday.
Referee Wayne Barnes ruled the action was intentional after video review, but declined to hand the 34-year-old a red card.
Independent citing commissioner Stefano Marrama from Italy has deemed the incident worthy of further investigation however, and Pape will appear before a disciplinary commission later this week.
"Pascal Pape, second row forward for France, has been cited by the independent citing commissioner at the RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and France in Dublin on Saturday, for the incident in the 52nd minute of the match for which the player received a yellow card," read a Six Nations statement.
France boss Philippe Saint-Andre claimed Pape's challenge was accidental, but the Stade Francais lock could now face a ban.
"When you watch the images of the incident I don't think you can say it was deliberate," said Saint-Andre after the match.
"However, I said to Pascal you received a yellow card just at the moment we were gaining the upper hand both physically and territorially as we were in their 22.
"Although we didn't concede many points it was still a pivotal moment. You expect something like that from an inexperienced player, not one with over 50 Tests under his belt. It was the worst possible moment for that to happen."
In other injury news, the IRFU confirmed that James Cronin had a minor knee procedure last week following an injury sustained in the Ireland Italy game. He is recovering well and will be rehabilitated in Munster.