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French flanker Betsen banned for 6 weeks
Jean-Paul Couret in Sydney | November 19, 2003 21:52 IST
France's Cameroon-born flanker Serge Betsen was suspended for six weeks on Wednesday for kicking England scrumhalf Matt Dawson in the head during their rugby World Cup semi-final clash at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney last Sunday.
"The citing complaint against Serge Betsen for kicking an opponent in the head was upheld by the judicial officer. He accepted it was not deliberate, but did represent a reckless act," the World Cup organisers said in a statement.
The ban, which will run from November 17 to December 29, was handed out after taking into account "a number of mitigating factors, including a letter of apology to Matt Dawson, that there had been no intention to hurt or injure, and the representations made as to the player's previous good record".
Betsen could have been banned for 18 weeks by judicial officer Brian McLoughlin of Ireland.
"I explained to the judicial officer panel that I regretted the incident and that it was not something I did on purpose, but a reflex," Betsen said.
The French flanker was not selected to face New Zealand in Thursday's World Cup playoff because of a knee injury.
The kicking incident happened just before half-time in the semi-final, won 24-7 by England. Dawson left the field with blood streaming from a head wound. He was replaced by Kyran Bracken in the second half.
Scotland's flanker Martin Leslie was suspended for 12 weeks for kneeing US centre Jason Keyter in the head during their pool B match, but the ban was reduced to eight weeks on appeal.
Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca was banned for two matches for punching French flanker Olivier Magne, also in pool B, while Argentinian prop Roberto Grau was suspended for nine weeks and his front row partner Mauricio Reggiardo for six after raking opponents' faces with their hands against Ireland.