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Aviva Premiership
Azam handed four-week ban
ESPNscrum Staff
April 27, 2011
Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam celebrates after winning a scrum against the head, Gloucester v Northampton, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, April 19, 2011
Olivier Azam played an integral role in Gloucester's win over Northampton last week © Getty Images
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Gloucester hooker Oliver Azam has been handed a four-week ban after being found guilty of head-butting Northampton's Adam Eustace during their recent Aviva Premiership clash.

The sanction, handed down by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel on Wednesday, rules the 36-year-old out of the Cherry and Whites' final regular season fixture against Sale Sharks on Saturday, May 7 and also the Premiership semi-finals on May 14 should his side hang onto their place in the top four.

The former France international is free to resume playing on May 25 - three days before the Premiership finale - but should Gloucester fail to make it that far then Azam could well have played his last game of professional rugby with his retirement expected at the end of the season.

"This was at the lower end of the scale of offending which is four weeks," said RFU Disciplinary Officer Jeff Blackett. "The panel increased the sanction to six weeks to reflect his poor disciplinary record but then reduced the sanction by two weeks to reflect his genuine remorse, his plea of guilty and his good conduct at the hearing. We were also aware that he is likely to retire at the end of this season and may already have played his last game of professional rugby."

Azam, who has scored 27 tries in 239 games for Gloucester, is nearing the end of his second spell with the Kingsholm-based club. He first the joined West Country side in 2000 from Montferrand before heading back to France in 2003 but then returned to Gloucester a year later.

In related news, Northampton lock Mark Sorenson was found not guilty after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Newcastle Falcons' Tim Swinson.

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