Rugby Union

Kyle Sinckler.

Kyle Sinckler earns himself a seven-week ban for gouging Northampton's Michael Paterson

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England, Harlequins, and British and Irish Lions tighthead Kyle Sinckler has been banned for seven weeks for gouging following a disciplinary hearing in Bristol.

The 24-year-old from Battersea in London had been having a reasonably good 2017.

The tighthead, who made his England debut in 2016, enjoyed a good Six Nations, and was in good form as the Aviva Premiership campaign ended with Harlequins qualifying for European rugby.

He also earned a surprise British and Irish Lions call up for the tour to New Zealand where he impressed.

Then came his arrest in Auckland following an end of tour session. However, it was later reported that the tighthead had not broken the law.

And now, the incident in Northampton may ruin what was a very good year for the Prop.

The incident happened 10 minutes into the second half during Quins' 22-30 defeat against a fast improving Northampton on Saturday and means that the highly rated 24-year-old is almost certainly going to be absent from England’s autumn international campaign.

Michael Paterson was clearly incensed and asked the referee to look at the incident on the big screen, and to be honest, the evidence was pretty damning.

Harlequins Director of Rugby John Kingston, who at the time was more interested in speaking about the treatment meted out to Harlequins hooker Dave Ward, commented following last night’s verdict.

Northampton Saints v Harlequins - Aviva Premiership

He said: “Despite Kyle’s unfair public reputation he actually has a very good on-field disciplinary record.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this incident was accidental, but both myself, and as a club we fully accept the importance of player welfare and believe wholeheartedly that there is no place for any players’ hand ever to be around the eye area of an opponent.

“We therefore accept the sanction and will be working with the whole squad around improving our discipline over the coming matches.”

Whether in was accidental or not – gouging is gouging, and a seven-week ban seems to be the right decision.

Harlequins Photocall

The 24-year-old said after the hearing that he was sorry and it was a genuine mistake and said he would now focus on working on his fitness and becoming a better player.

“I accept the outcome of the hearing and wanted to go on record to say I am sorry that I have let my team mates down, but more importantly I feel terrible that anyone would think I would deliberately gouge an opponent.

“That was never my intention - it was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part.

“I will spend the next seven weeks working hard on my fitness and rugby to ensure that when I am able to get back on the field I am fit and ready to do so and make the best possible contribution to Quins.”

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