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Six Nations: Delon Armitage banned for eight weeks

Delon Armitage
Armitage will be eligible for England's final Six Nations match against Ireland

England are likely to be without London Irish full-back Delon Armitage for the Six Nations after he was banned for eight weeks for pushing an official.

Armitage appeared before a disciplinary hearing on Thursday for pushing an anti-doping officer on 1 January.

The 27-year-old was found guilty of using threatening and/or abusive and obscene language during a test after the Exiles' game against Bath.

His ban ends on 16 March, three days before England's last match in Ireland.

The Rugby Football Union has charged Armitage with "conduct prejudicial to the interests of the sport" following the incident.

Armitage, who pleaded not guilty, was also ordered to pay £500 costs.


RFU disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett said: "His behaviour was completely unacceptable. It brought discredit on himself and his club and failed to uphold one of the core values of the game - respect.

"Doping control officers should expect to carry out their important work without fear of abuse and be treated with respect at all times.

"We took into account that it was not a violent push but more of a brush past and that was accepted by the doping control officer.

"We took the offences as a whole and, in line with the sanctions for abuse of match officials, we decided that a low end entry point of 12 weeks was appropriate.

"This was reduced to eight weeks on account of his remorse, his letter of apology to the doping control officer and his relatively good record."

Trinidad-born Armitage, who returned a negative test, has won 19 England caps and is a member of Martin Johnson's squad for the Six Nations, which starts with Wales v England on 4 February.

It is a fresh blow to Johnson, who is already missing Lewis Moody, Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood for at least the first month of the competition.

So far a total of 10 players who could have featured in the tournament opener have been ruled out. Wales will be missing Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Richie Rees, Tom Shanklin and Andrew Bishop.

Armitage made his Test debut in 2008 but has recently fallen down the pecking order and was used as a replacement during the November Test series with Northampton's Ben Foden taking the number 15 jersey.

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see also
Hodgson & Deacon in England squad
12 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 24-25 Bath
01 Jan 11 |  English
Armitage focuses on London Irish
24 Mar 10 |  London Irish

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Yahoo! UK and Ireland Eurosport Armitage handed eight-week ban - 2 hrs ago Johnno Will Be Praying to the Rugby Gods This Weekend - 3 hrs ago Banned Delon Armitage 'brought discredit on himself and his club' - 3 hrs ago
Irish Independent In brief: Armitage given eight-week ban - 4 hrs ago
Telegraph Banned Armitage to miss Six Nations - 4 hrs ago