Russia hooker gets 3-week ban for headbutt at RWC

Associated Press
Russia's Valeriy Tsnobiladze, left, and Alexander Yanyushkin tackle Ireland's Sean O'Brien during their Rugby World Cup game in Rotorua, New Zealand, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
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Russia's Valeriy Tsnobiladze, left, and Alexander Yanyushkin tackle Ireland's Sean O'Brien during their …

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Russia hooker Valery Tsnobiladze has been suspended for three weeks for a headbutt in the World Cup loss to Ireland last Sunday.

Tsnobiladze denied the charge at a hearing on Wednesday, but World Cup judicial officer Jeff Blackett of England watched TV footage, and reviewed evidence from Tsnobiladze and Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien, before ruling that the Russian was not free to play until Oct. 17.

Blackett noted the incident was reckless and not deliberate and the victim wasn't injured, and reduced Tsnobiladze's potential sanction by a week because of his previously good disciplinary record.

Winless Russia plays its final match at its first World Cup against two-time champion Australia on Saturday at Nelson.

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