Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam banned for headbutt

Olivier Azam
Azam has played 238 games for Gloucester

Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam has been banned for four weeks for headbutting Northampton's Adam Eustace during his side's 27-15 win on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old's poor previous disciplinary record initially prompted the Rugby Football Union to extend his suspension to six weeks.

It was then reduced however in light of "his genuine remorse, plea of guilty and good conduct at the hearing".

Azam can play again from 25 May - three days before the Premiership final.

Third-placed Gloucester have to win their final match of the regular season against Sale on 7 May to ensure their place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Azam has a chequered disciplinary history, having served a 12-week ban in 2009 for kicking Saracens' Steve Borthwick and a nine-week suspension in the same year for eye gouging.

The France international's contract at Kingsholm expires at the end of the season and his uncertain future was taken into account by the disciplinary panel.

"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," said RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett.

Northampton second row Mark Sorenson also appeared in front of the panel on Wednesday and was cleared of a charge of making a dangerous tackle on Newcastle forward Tim Swinson during his side's 22-15 victory last Friday.