Wales prop Francis given eight-week ban


Wales prop Tomas Francis has been banned for eight weeks after being found guilty of recklessly making contact with Dan Cole's eye during England's 25-21 Six Nations victory at Twickenham on Saturday.

Francis was not punished by referee Craig Joubert for the incident after he came off the bench in the second half, but the Exeter Chiefs man was cited on Sunday.

England head coach Eddie Jones accused Francis of putting a finger in Cole's eye and called for action to be taken, while Wales boss Warren Gatland said a replay of the incident "didn't look great".

Francis appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary committee in London on Tuesday and learned that he will miss the rest of the regular Premiership season.

The 23-year-old will also sit out Exeter's European Champions Cup quarter-final and the semi-final if they advance, but would be free to play in the final as well as the Premiership play-offs.

A Six Nations statement said: "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."

Aaron Jarvis replaces Francis on the bench for this weekend's clash with Italy.