Munster prop John Hayes has been suspended for six weeks following his stamp to the face of Cian Healy during their meeting with Leinster in the Magners League match on Saturday.
During an ill-tempered few minutes of the match, Hayes looked to have deliberately stamped down in the direction of Healy, resulting in a cut to the eye of the Leinster prop, and an immediate red card for the perpetrator.
A disciplinary hearing took place in Belfast, with an Irish Rugby Football Union panel confirming that after viewing video evidence and hearing all available evidence, the offence constituted a high end entry level in terms of sanctions.
The panel imposed the six week suspension after taking into account all mitigating factors, resulting in Hayes being suspended from the date of the offence, up until November the 14th – the day before Ireland play against Australia, and seven days before they play South Africa.
He will however miss Munsters Heineken Cup opening match against Northampton, the meeting with Treviso, and Magners League matches against Edinburgh and Ulster.
Munster team manager Shaun Payne said in a statement: “John regrets the incident happened at all. He has a long and unblemished professional rugby career spanning twelve seasons and would not be regarded by anybody including opponents as being a dirty player.
“He is very disappointed with the sanction, given that the committee accepted the action wasn’t intentional yet decided the entry point for the offence to be at the higher range, the nine weeks reduced to six in mitigation.”