Saints’ Calum Clark banned for injuring final opponent

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NORTHAMPTON forward Calum Clark has been banned for 32 weeks for damaging an opponent’s arm.

The England elite squad member was suspended from 22 March until 1 November following an RFU hearing.

Clark, 22, was cited after an incident during Northampton’s LV= Cup final defeat against Leicester 11 days ago, and then suspended indefinitely by his club.

Clark, who captained Saints in the final, was reported for an act contrary to good sportsmanship, allegedly hyperextending Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins’ right arm. Hawkins was left with a broken elbow and requiring surgery, sidelining him for the rest of this season.

In a statement, the RFU said: “Clark pleaded guilty to hyperextending the right arm of Leicester Tigers’ Rob Hawkins during the LV= Cup final at Sixways on 18 March.

“Clark is ordered to pay hearing costs of £500.

“The full judgement will be made available tomorrow [Friday]. The player has the right to appeal.”

Clark is the second Northampton forward to receive a lengthy ban this week after club skipper and England hooker Dylan Hartley landed an eight-week suspension for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris’ finger during an RBS Six Nations game on 17 March.

Hartley will be available for England’s three-Test summer tour to South Africa and the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham on 26 May, should play-off contenders Saints get there.

But Clark faces a far longer period of time out after leaving an opposition player seriously injured.

A former England Under-20 skipper who joined Northampton from Leeds Carnegie, Clark is seen among a promising array of young back-row talent available to newly-appointed England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

But the RFU panel, chaired by disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, left Clark knowing in no uncertain terms how his behaviour in the LV= Cup final has been viewed.