Davies to miss rest of Six Nations after seven week ban for spear tackle
Wales lock Bradley Davies will miss the rest of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship after receiving a seven-week ban.
Davies' suspension, announced by Six Nations organisers after a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday, comes following his citing for a reckless tip-tackle on Ireland replacement Donncha Ryan during last Sunday's clash in Dublin.
Reckless: Donncha Ryan receives treatment after Davies' tackle
The Cardiff Blues forward, who has a
right of appeal, cannot play again until March 26 – nine days after the
A three-man disciplinary panel decided that Davies' offence merited a top-end entry point of a 10-week ban, with an additional two weeks applied for this type of foul play.
But mitigating factors – Davies' guilty plea, his previously good disciplinary record and his conduct at the hearing – saw a maximum reduction to the punishment of five weeks imposed.
Davies, 25, was cited by match commissioner, Italian Achille Reali, following the second-half incident at the Aviva Stadium.
Binned: Davies only saw yellow for the incident
Referee Wayne Barnes brandished a yellow
card on the recommendation of his assistant Dave Pearson, but
television replays revealed the full extent of Davies' actions, which
should have undoubtedly warranted a straight red.
Even Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted that Davies was fortunate to avoid being sent off, so his ban should come as no surprise to a Welsh camp currently preparing for next Sunday's Six Nations appointment with Scotland in Cardiff.
The Six Nations disciplinary committee, chaired by Antony Davies (England) along with John Doubleday (England) and Jean-Noel Couraud (France), considered the citing report, television footage and listened to Davies' explanation.
In a statement, the Six Nations said:
'The player lifted
his opponent beyond a horizontal position but did not bring him to the
ground safely contrary to Law 10.4(j) and the IRB's particular emphasis on this aspect of the game, merited a top
end entry to the IRB's table of sanctions.
Controversy: Davies returned to the field as Wales secured victory
'The committee applied an additional two weeks to the entry point of 10 weeks to reflect the need for a deterrent for this type of foul play.
'But, in mitigation, took account of various factors in the player's favour, including his admission of guilt, his previous good disciplinary record and his conduct at the hearing in allowing the maximum possible reduction of five weeks.
'Bradley Davies can resume playing on 26 March 2012, and has the right of appeal.'
Davies, who has won 33 caps and made his Test debut against Scotland in 2009, will be available for Cardiff Blues' Heineken Cup quarter-final against holders Leinster on April 7.
But that will be of little comfort to him at the moment as he reflects on an episode that could easily have cost Wales victory in Dublin.
Selection dilemma: Gatland already has his first choice lock pairing missing
His absence also hands Gatland a second-row selection poser, with Davies now joining his fellow World Cup locks Alun-Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris on the sidelines.
Gatland will announce his team to face the Scots tomorrow afternoon, with former captain and back-row regular Ryan Jones widely expected to take Davies' No 4 shirt.
Jones, who starred at blindside flanker against Ireland, has played lock for his regional team the Ospreys this season, and would be the obvious replacement for Davies, although Gatland also has uncapped Scarlets second-row Lou Reed in the Six Nations squad.
'Ryan Jones has been on top of his game as a second-row and back-row for the Ospreys, and we are really happy with the way he is playing at the moment,' Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said, speaking prior to Davies' ban being announced.
Stepping in: Ryan Jones is likely to come in at lock
'We have that option, even if it would not give him as much freedom to run around the field carrying the ball as he did so well on Sunday.
'And we have Lou, an up-and-coming second-row who was with us at our training camp in Poland and has plenty to offer. He does not look out of place and he is fitting in well, taking a lot on board.
'We know we can turn to him, and we also have Aaron Shingler, who covers the back five for the Scarlets. We are not looking to add someone to the squad at this stage.
'We are keeping a close eye on Alun-Wyn Jones, whose rehab at Ospreys is going very well. He might have a bit of involvement at the weekend (for the Ospreys), and we are monitoring Luke, but he is a little further behind than Alun-Wyn.'