Rugby Union

Wales prop Tomas Francis has received an eight-week ban for making contact with the 'eye or eye area' of England's Dan Cole.

Wales prop Tomas Francis handed eight-week ban for contact with Dan Cole's eye

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Wales prop Tomas Francis has received an eight-week ban for making contact with the "eye or eye area" of England forward Dan Cole during last Saturday's RBS 6 Nations game at Twickenham.

Francis, 23, appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary committee in London on Tuesday after being cited following the incident.

His suspension means that he cannot play again until May 9, ruling him out of Wales' Six Nations clash against Italy in four days' time - he had been named among the replacements - and the rest of his club Exeter's regular season.

Francis, who has the right of appeal, is now set to be replaced on the bench against Italy by Ospreys tighthead Aaron Jarvis.

A statement released on behalf of the SIx Nations read: "The disciplinary committee, chaired by Pat Barriscale (Ireland) along with Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France) and George Spotswood (Ireland), having considered all of the evidence, including various clips of TV footage, and listened to representations by, and on behalf, of Mr Francis, found that he had recklessly made contact with the eye or eye area of an opponent, which had been worthy of a red card.

"The disciplinary committee heard submissions on sanction before concluding that the offending be characterised as being at the lower end of World Rugby's scale of seriousness for this type of offending, which has an entry point of 12 weeks.

"The disciplinary committee was then required to consider aggravating and mitigating factors, which it did before concluding that the appropriate sanction be a playing suspension of eight weeks.

"Mr Francis is free to play again on Monday, 9 May 2016. He was reminded of his right of appeal."

Francis had gone on during the second half at Twickenham as Wales looked to recover from a 16-0 interval deficit.

Following the incident, though, match referee Craig Joubert took no action against the player in terms of a yellow or red card after reviewing it on big screen replays inside the stadium.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland, speaking about the Francis incident on Tuesday before the disciplinary hearing outcome was known, said: "You see it, and you see it in absolute slow motion don't you, and everything looks so different in slow motion.

"When you play it in real time, the contact with the hand with the eye is a third of a second. That's the contact time.

"It doesn't look to me that he has gone specifically for someone. He has closed his eyes, his head is in a different position, he has tried to clear (George) Kruis from where he is over the top of Cole.

"I saw it in slow motion, and it didn't look good, that was my initial reaction (on Saturday). I gave an honest opinion, an honest answer after the match.

"Having looked at some of the other views and stuff, and looking at it in real time, those are questions you can ask about was it deliberate.

"Normally, if you are going to be grabbing someone's face or going for the eyes, it is a little bit more than a third of a second that is potentially going to do some damage.

"We will just wait and see what the outcome is."

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