Stade duo hit with hefty bans for eye offences

Stade Francais duo Laurent Sempere and Paul Gabrillagues have been hit with bans of 15 and eight weeks respectively for making contact with the eye area of opponents in an ill-tempered European Rugby Champions Cup match against Leicester Tigers.

Hooker Sempere was cited for an incident with Marcos Ayerza in the 34th minute of Stade's 36-21 victory at Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday.

Sempere denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card, but an independent judicial officer ruled otherwise at a hearing in London on Wednesday and a European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) statement confirmed his sanction.

A ban of 18 weeks was chosen as an entry point, with three added as a deterrent.

However, a reduction of six weeks was applied due to Sempere's "previously good disciplinary record, good character, excellent conduct at the hearing and his expression of concern for Ayerza's welfare".

Team-mate Gabrillagues was cited for allegedly making contact around the eyes of Dan Cole in the 48th minute of the same match.

Gabrillagues accepted he had committed an act of foul play and a punishment of 12 weeks - plus a further three as a deterrent - was decided as his punishment, with six weeks reduced due to his "expression of remorse, youth and inexperience and good conduct at the hearing."

Sempere is now banned until May 9, which would rule him out of Stade's quarter-final tie against the Tigers in April, although he and the EPCR can appeal the ruling

Gabrillagues' punishment lasts until March 21, subject to appeal.

Leicester's Ben Youngs was also handed a one-week ban for punching Stade prop Rabah Slimani in the same fixture.

Meanwhile, Scarlets second-rower Maselino Paulino has been handed a three-week suspension for striking Courtney Lawes during their 22-10 defeat to Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

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