Pascal Pape disciplinary case for kneeing Jamie Heaslip adjourned until tomorrow
France must sweat still further on Pascal Pape's RBS 6 Nations campaign after his disciplinary case over kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back was adjourned until Thursday morning.
The 34-year-old lock could yet be banned for the rest of the tournament for the crude challenge in Ireland's 18-11 win on Saturday, that left Heaslip with three broken vertebrae in his back.
Six Nations bosses said the disciplinary panel would "further deliberate their decision" after a lengthy hearing in London on Wednesday evening.
Stade Francais lock Pape now awaits the delayed judgement on whether he will take any further part in this year's Six Nations.
"The disciplinary hearing for Pascal Pape, the France lock forward, has been adjourned overnight for the appointed independent Six Nations disciplinary committee to further deliberate their decision," read a Six Nations statement.
The statement went on to describe how the disciplinary panel "heard representations by and on behalf of the player and viewed TV replays of the incident in which Pascal Pape was cited".
Pape was cited for striking, through Law 10.4(a), despite receiving only a yellow card for his offence from referee Wayne Barnes.
There can be little dispute that Pape made contact with Heaslip's back, but the France stalwart will have argued on Wednesday that the collision was completely accidental.
English official Barnes discussed the challenge as deliberate at the time, but still declined to send Pape off.
France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre defended Pape on Monday, claiming the incident was accidental, before the lock himself apologised to Heaslip on Twitter.
Wednesday's hearing ran late owing to personal testimony from both Pape and Saint-Andre in a bid to ensure the former Castres lock can feature again in the tournament.
Pape launched his act of contrition the night before the hearing, apologising to 70-cap Heaslip on social media.
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 loose forward Heaslip accepted the apology wholeheartedly.
Heaslip replied by tweeting a message in French, which translated as: "@pascalpape thanks for your message. Rugby is a physical game and one accepts that can happen. I accept your apology completely."
Heaslip will be sidelined for the next month, already leaving him a doubt for Ireland's final Six Nations clash, in Scotland on March 21.
The influential 31-year-old will be a loss to Ireland's bid to retain their title, especially in the pivotal England clash in Dublin on March 1.