Hazell banned until January
Gloucester will be without key forward Andy Hazell until January after his 14-week suspension for striking an opponent was confirmed.
Hazell was sent off for striking an opponent during his team's Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Mont-de-Marsan in France earlier this month and he has now been given a tough sentence that rules him out of action until the new year. Gloucester were hoping in the case, which was heard by independent judicial officer Roger Morris in Dublin on Thursday, that the French side would also face some sort of disciplinary action as Hazell had claimed in the aftermath of the game that he was acting after being provoked. "It was the third time someone tried to severely injury me and I reacted," he tweeted after the game. "In a way I wish I could take (it) back. But when you are in that situation you don't know how you would react." However, no evidence of foul play from Mont-de-Marsan was found when looking at the evidence and only Hazell was punished. In a statement, ERC said: "The judicial officer (Morris) determined that Hazell had intentionally struck Ormaechea with both the fist and the knee. "Having also determined that any suspensions he would impose for the offences would run concurrently, and as striking with the knee carries greater penalties than striking with the fist under the IRB recommended sanctions for offences committed within the playing enclosure, the judicial officer decided on a top-end entry point of 16 weeks. "Taking into account aggravating factors, he added a further two weeks given Hazell's disciplinary record and his failure to uphold the image of the game." Following consideration of Hazell's guilty plea and his exemplary conduct during the hearing, the judicial officer reduced the punishment by four weeks before suspending him for 14 weeks in total. Hazell will be available to play on January 21, 2013 but he does have the right to appeal the original sentence, although that is something he is unlikely to pursue.