Youngs given one-week ban after striking opponent

Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs has been suspended for a week by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing after pleading guilty to striking London Irish forward Jamie Gibson with his knee.

Youngs was cited following the incident in Tigers’ 41-32 Aviva Premiership win at the Madejski Stadium on March 25, and his club suspended him for one week after an internal hearing.

That saw him miss Friday’s win over Worcester, but his RFU ban will run alongside his Leicester suspension, meaning he will be free to play from Thursday and is available for the remainder of the Tigers’ title run-in.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

An RFU statement said: “Ben Youngs suspended for one week after pleading guilty to striking London Irish’s Jamie Gibson with his knee, contrary to Law 10(4)(a), during the Aviva Premiership match at the Madejski Stadium on March 25.”

The hearing was chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, and the RFU’s disciplinary chief praised Leicester for their “responsible” handling of the incident.

The low-end entry point for striking with the knee is a three-week ban, but Blackett revealed that Youngs’ good disciplinary record and the mitigating factor that he was being held down by Gibson in the lead-up to the incident had seen his potential suspension reduced.

Blackett said: “We decided that the offence was at the low end of seriousness, which carries an entry point of three weeks.

“There were no aggravating features and on the basis of his good record this was reduced by 50 per cent. There was a compelling mitigating factor in that the player was being held down unlawfully for a substantial period and so we reduced the suspension further to one week.

“We would like to thank Leicester for their responsible attitude towards this case.”

A lengthy ban could have put Youngs in danger of missing England’s summer tour to South Africa, but he will be available for selection when new full-time head coach Stuart Lancaster chooses his squad to face the Springboks.

Harlequins back-rower Maurie Fa’asavalu had his case for an alleged dangerous charge on Bath fly-half Tom Heathcote dismissed. The panel decided that the citing of the Samoa flanker had been carried out incorrectly, and that there was not enough evidence to suggest that the referee had been incorrect in awarding a yellow card instead of a red card for the offence.

Worcester fly-half Andy Goode, meanwhile, escaped further punishment following his sending-off against Leicester on Friday.

The former England international was dismissed for a shoulder charge on Tom Croft, but his red card was deemed to be sufficient punishment.