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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 21:12 GMT
Henson's ban reduced after appeal
Gavin Henson's ban runs until 5 March
Henson should be available for three of Wales' five Six Nations games
Wales centre Gavin Henson will be available for most of the Six Nations campaign after his ban for elbowing was reduced by three weeks.

His ban now covers only Wales' first two games, against England on 4 February and Scotland eight days later.

Henson had been banned until 5 March for elbowing Leicester prop Alejandro Moreno in a Heineken Cup match.

But his Ospreys side argued at an appeal hearing on Tuesday that the European Rugby Cup ban was excessive.

Henson's ban will now end on 12 February, which means he will be free to play in Wales' last three Six Nations matches.

The 23-year-old's likely comeback game will be against Celtic League opponents Borders in Swansea on 17 February.

There could have been more sympathy for Gavin, but we have accepted the panel's decision
Ospreys joint managing director Mike Cuddy

His original ban had ruled him out of all but the last two games against Italy and France.

The Ospreys argued that the original ban of 10 weeks and two days was harsh by pointing to two recent incidents in which players received lesser bans for elbowing.

France captain Fabien Pelous was banned for nine weeks for elbowing Australia's Brendan Cannon in November, while South Africa skipper Jon Smit got a six-week ban for striking France's Jerome Thion.

The panel, which comprised Brian McLoughlin (IRFU), Philip Orr (IRFU) and Mike Hamlin (RFU), upheld the guilty verdict but reduced the suspension from 10 weeks and two days from the original hearing on 23 December.

Henson refused to comment after the hearing, but the Ospreys joint managing director Mike Cuddy issued a brief statement saying: "It is still disappointing, but at least there has been a reduction.

"We felt justified in appealing the initial ban. There could have been more sympathy for Gavin, but we have accepted the panel's decision."

Henson ban hits Six Nations hopes
23 Dec 05 |  European Club
Ruddock shocked by Henson's ban
23 Dec 05 |  European Club
Henson ban 'not a blow for Wales'
23 Dec 05 |  Rugby Union


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