Saints weigh up Clark appeal

Somerset County Gazette: Calum Clark Calum Clark

Northampton say they are "bound to consider the merits of an appeal" after their back-row forward Calum Clark was banned for 32 weeks.

England hopeful Clark's rugby career is on hold after he was made to pay a hefty price for foul play during a showpiece cup final. The England elite squad member cannot play again until November 2 following a Rugby Football Union hearing.

In a statement, Saints said: "The disciplinary panel found that Calum Clark had not intended to injure Rob Hawkins in the course of moving his arm. Accordingly, the unfortunate injury suffered by Rob Hawkins was unintentional."

The statement added: "In the light of that finding of the disciplinary panel, Northampton Saints is bound to express concern and disappointment at the imposition of such a long suspension, even after significant mitigation in recognition in what was accepted to be Calum Clark's genuine remorse.

"Accordingly, the club is bound to consider the merits of an appeal. No further comment will be made at this time."

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.

Television footage of the incident at Sixways, though, 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.

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