Welsh lock Ian Evans has been banned for 12 weeks, ruling him out of the upcoming Six Nations tournament.
The suspension comes after Evans was found to have stamped on Leinster's Mike McCarthy in last weeks 36-3 Heineken Cup defeat.
The ban means that the Osprey's lock will miss out on the entire Welsh defence of their Six Nations title and not be free to play rugby again until April 21.
Wales will now have to cope without another British Lions forward for the Six Nations campaign after his Ospreys' team-mate Ryan Jones dropped out of the tournament through injury.
Evans, who is moving to Toulon this summer, pleaded guilty to the offence after being sent off by the French referee Romain Poite in the first half of last Friday's match and the ERC released the following statement:
“The independent judicial officer, Jeremy Summers, heard evidence and submissions from Evans, who pleaded guilty, from Ospreys team manager Andy Lloyd and from the ERC disciplinary officer.
“In upholding the red card decision, the judicial officer stated that the incident involved at least two stamps which connected with McCarthy’s head and which resulted in a serious facial wound.
“Mr Summers also stated that there was no place in the game for conduct of this kind — a view which Evans himself accepted during the hearing.
“The judicial officer determined that the offence was at the top end of the IRB sanctions for offences of this nature and selected 16 weeks as the appropriate entry point.
“As there were no aggravating factors, he reduced the suspension by four weeks due to the player’s guilty plea, good conduct and remorse during the hearing. Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.”
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