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Rebels rocked by 10-week ban for Byrnes
ESPNscrum Staff
March 4, 2012
Adam Byrnes was show a white card during the match © Getty Images
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Melbourne Rebels have been dealt a huge blow with news that Adam Byrnes will be missing for more than half of the Super Rugby season after the lock was slapped with a 10-week ban for making contact with the eyes of Tom Carter during Friday night's clash against the Waratahs.

SANZAR judicial officer Paul Tully imposed the lengthy suspension after a four-and-a-half-hour hearing on Sunday, the organisation confirmed.

The Russia international was cited after Waratahs captain Daniel Halangahu made a first-half complaint that team-mate Carter had been interfered with at a ruck.

Medical evidence showed that Carter, who played out the match and scored two tries in the 35-19 win, sustained a minor scratch to his eye.

Tully said there was enough evidence to support the allegation, but Byrnes' otherwise unblemished record saw the ban reduced from 12 weeks to 10. Byrnes will not be available to play until the week 13 clash against the Western Force on May 20.

The Rebels announced later on Sunday that they will appeal the decision, insisting that any contact was accidental and also pledging support to their player.

"The Rebels share Byrnes' disappointment with this finding and will fully support him throughout the appeal process," a statement read. "The club would also like to make it clear that despite media reports, there is no suggestion that Byrnes engaged in any "eye gouging". We believe that any contact made was absolutely accidental and without intent."

Meanwhile, Bulls scrum-half Francois Hougaard picked up a one-week suspension following his sending off against the Cheetahs. The Springbok international was red carded for a tip tackle on Robert Ebersohn at Free State Stadium.

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