Heineken Cup 2009-10

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Heineken Cup
Dupuy hammered with six-month ban
December 18, 2009

France will be without Julien Dupuy for the Six Nations after the Stade Francais scrum-half was hammered with a 24-week ban for gouging Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris.

After considering the evidence, independent judicial officer Judge Jeff Blackett (England) found that the incident was at the top end in the level of seriousness for an offence of this type and imposed the six-month ban following a lengthy hearing in Dublin. Both parties are entitled to an appeal.

The incident occurred during Stade's Heineken Cup loss to Ulster at Ravenhill on December 12 and Dupuy will now miss the remainder of the season, being eligible to play again on June 3, 2010. He will be unable to play should Stade progress to the final of Europe's top competition or the Top 14, both of which will be staged in late May.

Stade president Max Guazzini wasted little time in lashing out at the severity of the suspension and called the integrity of the European Rugby Cup into question.

"It's excessive, very political and anti-French," Guazzini told AFP. "The ERC wanted to make an example of a symbolic player of Stade Fran├žais and of the French team which has never had a disciplinary problem.

"It's not normal that a private organisation in Ireland prevents a club employee from working, from playing. It is we who pay him."

Dupuy's team-mate, David Attoub, was also cited for the same offence but his hearing has been adjourned until January as more evidence is compiled. Both players issued an apology to Ulster and their fans earlier in the week and face internal disciplinary action. The teams will meet again on Saturday at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

"It is normal that the club penalises players for actions as dumb and stupid," they said. "Again, we apologise to the Ulster players and club, whom we did not mean to cause offence. The actions were neither premeditated nor intentional. We want to apologise to our club, players, our staff and supporters for the negative image that we have left with these actions. "

Dupuy's penalty is by far the most severe handed down for the offence this season, with Springbok flanker Schalk Burger and Italian skipper Sergio Parisse serving eight weeks after incidents against the British & Irish Lions and New Zealand respectively.

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