Ulster's Luke Marshall gets five-week ban for kicking opponent

Luke Marshall on the way to scoring an Ulster try in last Friday's win over the Scarlets
Luke Marshall (second right) has been cited for allegedly kicking an opponent in last Friday's win over the Scarlets

Ulster centre Luke Marshall has been banned for five weeks for kicking an opponent in last Friday's 25-20 Pro12 win over Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.

Marshall will be ruled out of the Irish province's matches away to Dragons and Connacht, as well as the game against Cardiff Blues in Belfast on 27 March.

The Ireland international was found guilty of kicking Michael Tagicakibau at a disciplinary hearing on Thursday.

Roger Wilson was given a one-week ban for striking an opponent in the game.

The back-rower's offence was considered to be reckless rather than intentional and at the lower end of the sanctions for this type of offence, with his suspension reduced to one week which will rule him out of the trip to Rodney Parade.

Marshall's offence was deemed to be at the mid-range of World Rugby's sanctions.

Marshall appeared before an independent Pro12 Rugby Disciplinary Committee after being cited for "an alleged kick to the head of an opponent" during the second half of last week's match.

After listening to representations by and on behalf of the player, and viewing television footage of the incident, the committee found Marshall "had committed an act of foul play which would have warranted a red card".

"The committee found that there were no aggravating factors, and after taking into account various mitigating factors including the player's unblemished playing record, the committee reduced the entry point by three weeks and imposed a five-week suspension," a Pro12 statement read.

"The player is suspended from playing until midnight on Sunday, 12 April 2015, taking into account one "down" week, and has the right of appeal."