England international Harry Ellis has been banned for six weeks following a dangerous tackle on New Zealand star Dan Carter while on club duty for Leicester.
The Leicester scrum-half admitted the offence when he appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin today.
Ellis was cited by match commissioner, Scotsman Iain Goodall, as a result of the incident.
It happened during the Tigers’ 26-20 Heineken Cup defeat against Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral last Sunday.
Carter was making his debut for the French club, after signing a lucrative six-month contract.
Ellis is suspended up to, and including, January 25. He had already been banned by his club for a week, ruling him out of tomorrow’s Guinness Premiership clash against Newcastle at Welford Road.
But Ellis - who has the right of appeal - is now set to sit out additional Premiership appointments with Harlequins, Bath and Northampton.
He will also miss Tigers’ vital Heineken Cup pool matches against Treviso and the Ospreys next month, the results of which will make or break their quarter-final chances.
With Leicester not playing on the final weekend in January, it means he will not be available for top-flight rugby again before the start of this season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.
England launch their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Italy at Twickenham on February 7.
Ellis, 26, made four England appearances off the replacements’ bench during November Tests against the Pacific Islands, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
He has won 22 caps but currently finds himself understudying Harlequins star Danny Care.
Ellis appeared before a panel chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland), assisted by Ireland’s George Spotswood and Pat Barriscale.
The committee decided Ellis’ offence was “of the top-end of the level of seriousness for a dangerous tackle”.
Any appeal must be lodged within 72 hours of receiving the full written decision from the disciplinary committee chairman.
Leicester have confirmed an appeal will be considered.
In a statement, the Tigers said: “We are very disappointed that what we saw as a clumsy tackle has been characterised by the panel as an offence at the top end of the range of offending.
“We will consider an appeal in consultation with the club’s lawyers.”