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Kyle Sinckler receives seven-week ban for eye-gouging

English prop says; ‘It was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part’

Kyle Sinckler in action for Harlequins against Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

The Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler is almost certain to miss England’s autumn international campaign after receiving a seven-week ban for eye-gouging Northampton’s Michael Paterson.

The 24-year-old accepted the charge of making contact with Paterson’s eye last Saturday and will miss England’s autumn matches against Argentina and Australia. Sinckler is free to play again on November 21st, four days before England conclude their autumn fixtures against Samoa, but he is highly unlikely to feature in that match, considering the lack of game time he will have had.

An RFU disciplinary panel ruled “it was an intentional action” on Sinckler’s part but he soon released a statement claiming otherwise. “I feel terrible that anyone would think I would deliberately gouge an opponent,” he said. “That was never my intention – it was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part.”

The panel also ruled that “due to the absence of injury” to Paterson a low-end entry point for the sanction, which is 12 weeks for making contact with the eye, was sufficient. It was reduced to seven, however, because of mitigating factors, including Sinckler’s guilty plea, his conduct during the hearing and the fact he showed remorse. Chris Ashton was banned for 10 weeks for a similar offence last year.

Sinckler was left out of England’s 33-man training squad selected last month but the Harlequins director of rugby, John Kingston, revealed he had expected the player to be involved in the nation’s autumn campaign. “I would have bet that he would have been involved in the autumn series,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he would have been under serious consideration to play for England in the autumn.”

Sinckler has developed a reputation for a combustible temperament during his rapid rise to Test Lion. He was involved in an altercation with a number of New Zealand players at the end of the second Test in Wellington and he was arrested in Auckland during a night out after the conclusion of the series.

Kingston said: “While there’s a perception of him being very physical and competitive and a combative individual, his disciplinary record is extremely good and that’s a fact. The end of the Lions tour was well documented and those things probably prey on your mind a little bit.

“He’s a young man who is extremely well intended. He keeps saying to me that he wants to concentrate on his rugby. But he’s having to realise that with the publicity that comes with him, everyone wants to talk about that. I have no doubt that he will have some fantastic times ahead in his career but it’s about learning the hard way when you have disappointment.”

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