Eight-week ban for Oz lock
London - Australia lock Rob Simmons is set to miss the rest of the Wallabies' tour of Europe after being handed an eight-week ban Wednesday for a tip-tackle during last weekend's 33-6 defeat by France in Paris.
Now Simmons, who has the right of appeal, is in line to be ruled out of this Saturday's Cook Cup against England at Twickenham, next week's Test with Italy in Florence and the December 1 international against Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
Simmons's ban adds to Australia's problems in the second row with fellow lock Kane Douglas already sidelined from the England match due to a knee injury he suffered against France.
On as a replacement, Simmons was cited by South Africa's Freek Burger for his challenge on Yannick Nyanga midway through the second half of Australia's tour-opening Test loss at the Stade de France last Saturday.
During the course of the match, Welsh referee Nigel Owens was heard apologising to the France team for the officials' failure to issue a red card for the challenge on Nyanga due to their collective inability to identify tackler Simmons.
International Rugby Board (IRB) judicial officer Robert Williams of Wales, who heard Simmons's case at a hearing in London on Wednesday, said in a statement, that he determined the Australia forward's tackle to be at the "high end" of the scale of IRB sanctions.
In upholding the citing, Williams added two weeks "aggravation" from the high end entry point of 12 weeks' punishment for such offences but then allowed the maximum six weeks mitigation based on Simmons's "exemplary previous disciplinary record and his conduct at the hearing".
Hence a sanction of eight weeks was duly imposed, with Simmons free to resume playing on February 25.
The statement issued on behalf of Williams added: "The specific period of suspension recognises the close season inactivity after the current tour when the player is not scheduled to play."
Australia coach Robbie Deans was due to name his side to play England on Thursday.