England's Dylan Hartley has been suspended for eight weeks after he was cited for biting the finger of flanker Stephen Ferris during the 30-9 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland on St Patrick’s Day.
The Northampton hooker was found guilty of committing an act “contrary to good sportsmanship", following a formal complaint by Ferris.
A statement released from the IRB confirmed the ban, stating: “Dylan Hartley, England Hooker, was today suspended for 8 weeks for biting an opponent contrary to IRB Law 10.4(m) "acts contrary to good sportsmanship."
Hartley will be available for England's summer tour to South Africa after the disciplinary hearing suspended him for eight weeks.
The Six Nations hearing upheld the citing and issued a ban that will force him to miss the remainder of Northampton's season but enable him to play in the first Test against the Springboks on 9 June.
The statement continued: “The Disciplinary Committee considered the available evidence before them and listened to the player, his legal representative, as well as Jim Mallinder (Director of Rugby, Northampton) and Graham Rowntree (Forwards Coach, England). The Disciplinary Committee also listened to the evidence of Stephen Ferris by video link.
“The Disciplinary Committee, in upholding the citing for foul play, decided that the offence merited a low entry point in the IRB's table of sanctions and allowed mitigation of four weeks.
“Dylan Hartley's period of suspension ends on 13 May 2012, and he is free to play on 14 May 2012. He has the right of appeal.”
It is not the first time New Zealand born Hartley has been in trouble after serving a 26-week ban for eye-gouging in 2007.
Hartley was found to have bitten Ferris's finger in the 28th minute of England's 30-9 win although the incident was not picked up by television cameras.