London Irish back Delon Armitage given five-week ban

Tom Biggs (left) is tackled by Delon Armitage
Armitage clashes with Biggs (left) in Irish's defeat against Bath

London Irish back Delon Armitage has been banned for five weeks for a dangerous tackle on Bath's Tom Biggs.

The Rugby Football Union said it hoped the England player would learn lessons from his fourth suspension of 2011.

Armitage, 27, was also found guilty of striking lock Dave Attwood with a knee during the same match.

Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU's disciplinary chief, said: "We accept that both these incidents were reckless and not malicious."

The striking offence carries a three-week penalty but it will be served concurrently, meaning Armitage will be available to play again from 9 December.

The full-back will miss London Irish's Heineken Cup meetings with Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues, plus Premiership assignments against Wasps and Saracens. He will be available for the Exiles' third Heineken pool match against Racing Metro in Paris on 10 December.

Armitage, who has won 26 England caps, committed the offences in the Exiles' 13-12 Premiership loss to Bath on 29 October.

Judge Blackett said the punishment could have been worse due to Armitage's poor record, but that his guilty plea and conduct at the hearing had been taken into account.

"In relation to the dangerous tackle on Tom Biggs there was the potential for significant injury and for that reason we believe that it was a mid-range entry level offence of six weeks," he said.

"We increased it to eight because of concerns raised by the IRB about injuries caused by dangerous tackles and because of his poor disciplinary record.

"We then reduced the sanction to five weeks because of his guilty plea, his contrition and the impressive way he conducted himself at the hearing.

"In relation to the strike to which he also pleaded guilty, we decided that this was a low-end entry offence and for that we imposed a three-week suspension.

"We hope that he will learn from these events and we look forward to him resuming the game he quite clearly feels very passionate about."

Armitage was suspended for eight weeks in January and for three weeks in April for offences in the domestic game.

He was also banned from England's World Cup quarter-final against France following another dangerous tackle.

Armitage's disciplinary problems in 2011 began when he was found guilty of pushing and verbally abusing an anti-doping official after a game on New Year's Day.

He was then sidelined for in April.

The suspension for the World Cup quarter-final was as a result of a dangerous high tackle on Scotland's Chris Paterson.

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