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Haskell hit with three-week ban
ESPNscrum Staff
May 1, 2012
The Highlanders' James Haskell is swamped by the Cheetahs' defence, Cheetahs v Highlanders, Super Rugby, Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, South Africa, April 28, 2012
The Highlanders' James Haskell was cited for striking Cheetahs flanker Justin Downey © Getty Images
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Highlanders flanker James Haskell has been hit with a three-week ban after being found guilty of striking Cheetahs flanker Justin Downey during their Super Rugby clash on Saturday.

The England international was only yellow carded by referee Marius Jonker during the Highlanders' 36-33 victory in Bloemfontein despite a a recommendation from his assistants that the multiple punches warranted a red card.

As a result, Haskell would be available to England during the June Test window.

The decision follows a similar judgement handed down to Blues flanker Luke Braid who was also banned for three weeks after being found guilty of striking the Stormers' Nizaam Carr.

SANZAR duty judicial officer Mike Heron said of Haskell: "The injury to the player and the repeated punches are an aggravating factor which warrant an increase of one week in my view, making a penalty of six weeks suspension. In mitigation, Haskell immediately accepted his conduct was unacceptable. He apologised to the Cheetahs player and to me.

"He expressed significant remorse for his conduct, in particular for the impact it would have on his team. Haskell has a very impressive record over a period of approximately 10 years of professional rugby. I was told that he has no previous citings and has received only a single yellow card in his professional career (which was not for foul play).

"He has dealt with serious provocation in the past without resort to this unacceptable conduct. He is passionate about his commitment to the Highlanders and expressed sincere regret as to the impact this would have on his time with them. His coach spoke in support of his character and I accept the submissions on his behalf. He received a yellow card, which in turn adversely impacted on the Highlanders during the game (and is some penalty).

"To recognise and acknowledge the immediate guilty plea, his impressive record and the sincere remorse shown I am prepared to reduce the sanction by a period of three weeks, resulting in an ultimate sanction of three weeks."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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