LONDON (Reuters) - England prop Kyle Sinckler will miss the autumn internationals against Argentina and Australia after being handed a seven-week suspension by the RFU for eye gouging in Harlequins’ Premiership defeat at Northampton on Saturday.
Sinckler, England’s second choice tighthead for the autumn campaign starting against the Argentines on Nov. 11, accepted the charge after being cited for making contact with the eye and/or eye area of Saints’ lock Michael Paterson.
“...I am sorry that I have let my team mates down, but more importantly I feel terrible that anyone would think I would deliberately gouge an opponent,” Sinckler said on his club’s website (www.quins.co.uk). “That was never my intention - it was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part.”
The 24-year-old British and Irish Lions forward received an on-field warning and conceded a penalty after the second-half incident was reviewed by the TV match official at the time.
Referee Luke Pearce decided the replay footage was inconclusive and only punished Sinckler for removing New Zealand-born Paterson’s scrum cap.
“The panel heard evidence from the player as to his actions. They found that it was an intentional action but that due to the absence of injury it merited a low end entry point,” the disciplinary panel chairman Dan White said in an RFU statement on Tuesday.
“The player has not got a clear record because of a suspension in 2015 and so the panel could not give full mitigation. The player will therefore be suspended for seven weeks and is free to play again on the 21 November 2017.”
There is a minimum four-week ban for contact with the eye area while contact with the eye brings a minimum 12-week ban.
Sinckler, who will be available to play against Samoa on Nov. 25, was warned over his conduct by England coach Eddie Jones after this year’s Lions tour and was omitted from the national team’s most recent training squad.
Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Toby Davis