Cape Town - England captain Dylan Hartley has been suspended for six weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in London on Wednesday.
Hartley appeared at the hearing after his club's Champions Cup Round 3 match against Leinster at Franklin's Gardens.
Hartley was sent off by referee, Jérôme Garcès (France), for striking the Leinster flanker, Sean O'Brien, in the 58th minute of the match in contravention of Law 10.4 (a).
Law 10.4 (a) Striking
Under World Rugby's Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 10.4 (a), Striking a player with a hand, arm or fist carries the following sanction entry points - Low End: 2 weeks; Mid-Range: 5 weeks; Top End: 8 to 52 weeks
An independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Simon Thomas (Wales), Chairman, Rhian Williams (Wales) and Marco Cordelli (Italy) heard submissions from Hartley, who pleaded guilty to the offence, as well as from the player's legal representative, Richard Smith QC, and the Northampton Saints Team Manager, Paul Shields.
The Committee also heard evidence and submissions from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
In upholding the red card decision, the Committee found that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby's sanctions and selected five weeks as the appropriate entry point.
Taking into account Hartley's poor disciplinary record, the Committee added two weeks to the sanction and then reduced the sanction by one week due to the player's guilty plea before imposing a suspension of six weeks.
Hartley is free to play on Monday, January 23 2017. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.