Delon Armitage, the Toulon player, has been suspended for 12 weeks as a result of a misconduct complaint lodged against him by EPCR following his club’s Champions Cup match against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on December 7.
Armitage appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee made up of Antony Davies (England, Chairman), Roger Morris (Wales) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland) in London today (Wednesday, 17 December). He was accompanied at the hearing by his legal representatives, Mark Milliken-Smith QC and Julian Pike, and by the Toulon team manager, Tom Whitford, and the Toulon player, Drew Mitchell.
The misconduct complaint against Armitage was that during and after the match he was alleged to have conducted himself in an unsportsmanlike manner by making a number of comments to, or within earshot of, spectators using foul and abusive language and may have brought into disrepute the sport of rugby union, the Champions Cup, other clubs and persons and/or EPCR in contravention of the Disciplinary Rules of the European Rugby Champions Cup Participation Agreement 2014/15.
After considering evidence and hearing submissions on behalf of Armitage, who pleaded not guilty, and on behalf of the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, the independent Disciplinary Committee was not satisfied that a comment allegedly made by Armitage during the match had been made as the inconsistencies in the evidence were too great.
However, the Committee was satisfied that Armitage had directed abusive language at Leicester Tigers supporters after the match, and while it found that his comments were provoked, the Committee decided he was guilty of misconduct.
The Committee determined that the sanction entry point should be eight weeks, and as this was Armitage’s second post-match misconduct case in the last four years, and as there were no mitigating factors, it decided to add four weeks to the ban before imposing a suspension of 12 weeks. Armitage was also ordered to pay costs.
The suspension will run from 17 December 2014 until 8 March 2015, therefore Armitage will be free to play on 9 March 2015. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.