England Rugby elite squad member banned for 32 weeks

by RUGBY.com.au staff

England hopeful Calum Clark's rugby career is on hold after he was made to pay a hefty price for foul play during a showpiece cup final.

Northampton forward Clark has been banned for 32 weeks by Rugby Football Union disciplinary chiefs, meaning the England elite squad member cannot play again until November 2.

Clark, 22, was cited after an incident during Northampton's LV= Cup final defeat against Leicester 12 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.

It left Hawkins with a broken elbow and requiring surgery, sidelining him for the rest of this season.

Clark's suspension of more than seven months is among the longest handed out to a senior English player during rugby union's 16-and-a-half-year professional era.

But television footage of the incident at Sixways could have left few people in any doubt about its severity.

Pictures showed former Bath forward Hawkins reeling away in agony from a 21st-minute ruck.

It was an incident that enraged Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill.

Northampton have so far given no indication as to whether they will appeal Clark's punishment.

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 a Six Nations game on March 17.

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

But Clark faces a far longer period of time in which to contemplate his actions.