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Azam 12-week suspension upheld
Scrum.com
October 13, 2009
Canterbury fly-half Dan Carter snaffles the ball from a ruck, Canterbury v Manawatu, Air New Zealand Cup, AMI Stadium, Christcurch, October 9, 2009
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter will start Canterbury's Air NZ Cup clash with Hawke's Bay this weekend © Getty Images
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  • Gloucester have failed in their bid to get hooker Olivier Azam's 12-week ban for kicking Saracens lock Steve Borthwick reduced.

    The Premiership club was successful with its appeal in arguing that the offence was best categorised at the mid-range entry point of eight weeks rather than top end of 12+ weeks on the scale of seriousness. However, the panel decided that the sanction should stay the same based on the following:

    + The offence should be categorised at the mid range rather than the top end entry point decided by the original panel

    + Six weeks should be added to the eight weeks for his previous disciplinary record, bringing the total to 14 weeks

    + Two weeks should be deducted for the player's guilty plea and other mitigating factors which will be outlined in the full judgment available in due course

    Azam is therefore banned from playing until December 29.

  • Munster and Ireland prop John Hayes has had his ban for stamping reduced to five weeks.

    The 35-year-old, capped 94 times by his country, was initially suspended for six weeks after he was sent off during Munster's 30-0 defeat to Leinster after for stamping on Cian Healy.

    A statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union said, "The IRFU appeals panel considered the grounds for appeal by Munster Rugby and allowed one further weeks mitigation based upon the record of the player."

    The decision means Hayes will be able to play again from November 8.

  • All Blacks stars Dan Carter and Richie McCaw return to the Canterbury starting side for their Air NZ Cup table-topping match against Hawke's Bay in Napier on Thursday.

    The defending champions have made multiple changes from the side who comfortably defended the Ranfurly Shield against Manawatu last weekend, when fly-half Carter and flanker McCaw appeared off the reserve bench.

    McCaw slots in at No.8 for the competition leaders in place of Nasi Manu while Carter comes in for Stephen Brett, who is ruled out with a back strain.

    "They have talent all across the park and we'll have to be on top of our game but we're looking forward to the challenge," said coach Trevor Penney said.

  • Jonathan Kaplan, the world's most capped Test referee, has been appointed to referee the 2009 Currie Cup final. This weekend's semi-finals will see the Sharks play host to the Cheetahs and Western Province tackle the Blue Bulls.

  • Championship side London Welsh will be donating 25% of the gate receipts from this Saturday's clash with Cornish Pirates to the Samoan Tsunami Relief Appeal.

    In addition to a raffle, auction and bucket collection at Old Deer Park there will be a Samoan Legends 7s match with stars such as Trevor Leota, Apollo Perelini, Junior Paramore, as well as rugby league internationals George Carmont and Lafeta Paleasina amongst those in attendance.

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