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Exeter’s James Hanks found not guilty of gouging Steve Borthwick’s eye

26th September 2012

• Hanks escapes ban after panel rules contact accidental
• Dan Hipkiss and Michael Claassens have citings dismissed

The Exeter second row James Hanks has escaped without a ban after a disciplinary panel found that he unintentionally made contact with Steve Borthwick’s eye during Sunday’s victory over Saracens at Sandy Park.

Hanks was cited following the match and would have been suspended for at least 12 weeks if found guilty of gouging. A three-man panel, headed by the Rugby Football Union’s chief disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett, found that while Hanks’s finger made contact with the former England captain Borthwick’s eye, it was unintentional.

“The panel concluded that the contact occurred in a dynamic situation during a ruck, when James Hanks was driving forward and putting his hand down to prevent him from falling over,” said Blackett. “The contact was entirely accidental.”

The panel, sitting in Bristol, dismissed two other citings. Two Bath players, the centre Dan Hipkiss and the scrum-half Michael Claassens faced long suspensions after being charged with tip-tackling and kicking respectively, but the charges were thrown out and they will be available for selection against Sale on Saturday.


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