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Friday, January 07, 2011

Richie Rees banned for 12 weeks after contact with Dylan Hartley's eyes

Cardiff Blues scrumhalf Richie Rees was handed a 12 week suspension earlier today for his part in a scuffle against Northampton Saints that involved his fingers making contact with Dylan Hartley's eyes.

Yesterday England lock Dave Attwood was suspended for nine weeks for a stamp, and today it's Welsh back Rees who will also take no part in the Six Nations next month. Rees' incident took place when a scuffle broke out in a hugely physical Heineken Cup game last month.

It's the same match where Xavier Rush was red carded for a big hit on Courtney Lawes.

Rees was reportedly surprised when he found out he was cited after the match, as he couldn't recall the incident. In fairness, Hartley, who was on the receiving end, barely seemed to notice it himself. Despite that, a citing went ahead with Rees pleading not guilty, stating that any contact that was made would have been entirely accidental.

Irishman Pat Barriscale, the Independent Judicial Officer, viewed numerous replays (more than what was televised) and heard testimonies from the players. He found that Rees was in fact guilty of foul play, even if it was reckless more than intentional.

It was found to be at the low end of the scale in terms of Law 10.4(m) - contact with the eye/eye area - but that still constitutes a minimum sanction of 12 weeks. Rees has the right to appeal.

The following clip includes a tackle from Hartley that more than likely prompted the scuffle, with Blues lock Paul Tito clearly taking exception to it.

Time: 01:11

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