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BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson
"Johnson was guilty of kneeing McRae in the ribs and then deliberately stamping on him"
 real 14k

England coach Andy Robinson
"From an England point of view - it's good for us"
 real 14k

BBC News were at RFU's Twickenham headquarters
and spoke to Martin Johnson and Leicester's Peter Wheeler
 real 56k

Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 20:42 GMT
Johnson banned for 35 days
Martin Johnson
Johnson: Faced a three-hour grilling at Twickenham
England captain Martin Johnson has been suspended for 35 days by the Rugby Football Union for violent conduct.

But he may still be able to play in the Six Nations opener with Wales, because the ban expires the day before the Millennium Stadium showdown on 3 February.

Leicester lock Johnson learned his fate on Thursday after a three-hour disciplinary hearing at the RFU's Twickenham headquarters.

He had been cited by Saracens for alleged use of the knee.

Johnson said after the hearing: "I am obviously disappointed at the ban. We are going to take a few days to look at it.

"We've just heard so we're not going to give any reactions now."

Injured opponent

Johnson was accused of foul play against Australian fly half Duncan McRae during Leicester's Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter final earlier this month.

Duncan McRae
Duncan McRae: Out for the next month
Saracens also protested against Johnson for an off-the-ball incident with Julian White in the same game.

An RFU statement read: "The panel has decided that Martin Johnson will be suspended, with immediate effect, for a period of 35 days for reasons of foul play during the Leicester Tigers v Saracens Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter-final on 9 December.

"The first charge, an alleged punch on the Saracens prop Julian White, was proved.

"On the second and third charges Martin Johnson was found guilty by the panel of kneeing and stamping the Saracens fly-half Duncan McRae."

Selection dilemma

The RFU said that Johnson's suspension was reduced by a week due to his previous good behaviour, but that it would have been shorter still had he pleaded guilty to the charges.

The ban rules Johnson out of two European Cup games, the Tetley's Cup semi-final and a Premiership game.

But he will be free to meet up with his international colleagues, ahead of the Wales match.

Asked if he thought he would be still be selected for the Wales game, Johnson stated: "That's for Clive to sort out in the next few weeks."

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See also:

28 Dec 00 |  Rugby Union
Johnson: Bad boy or fall guy?
16 Dec 00 |  Rugby Union
Tigers hit back over citing
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