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France rugby star Fritz banned three weeks

  • Story Highlights
  • France centre Florian Fritz has been handed three-week ban for striking
  • Rules Fritz out of Saturday's Six Nations home game against Scotland
  • Toulouse star also misses visit of defending champions Wales to Paris
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(CNN) -- France centre Florian Fritz has been handed a three-week ban for striking an opponent, ruling him out of Saturday's Six Nations home game against Scotland and the visit of champions Wales to Paris.

France's Florian Fritz, center, has been banned for three weeks after being found guilty of striking an opponent.

France's Florian Fritz, center, has been banned for three weeks after being found guilty of striking an opponent.

The Toulouse player had been cited for allegedly eye-gouging an unnamed Ireland player in the 47th minute of last Saturday's match in Dublin.

Fritz was cleared of that offence at Wednesday's disciplinary hearing in London, much to the relief of France team manager Jo Maso, but found guilty of a lesser misdemeanor.

"The gouging was not recognised," Maso told www.lequipe.fr. "I am thrilled and delighted we can hold our heads high because it is not this horrible act that has been punished.

"We regret this gesture but French rugby is not dirty."

The 25-year-old Fritz, will be free to play from March 2, making him available for the final two Six Nations matches away to England and Italy.

But he will miss both of Les Bleus' home matches, starting with Saturday's Stade de France showdown with the Scots.

Fritz had been named in the side, but will be replaced in midfield by Benoit Baby with Maxime Mermoz included among the replacements.

A disciplinary panel statement confirmed: "The committee, chaired by Roger Morris (Wales) and including Achille Reali (Italy) and Jeff Probyn (England), found that M. Fritz had not deliberately made contact with the eyes or eye area of his Irish opponent in the RBS 6 Nations match at Croke Park on Saturday, 7 February.

"The committee did, however, find the player guilty of committing the lesser offence of striking an opponent and imposed a suspension of three weeks up to and including Sunday, 1 March, 2009."

Scotland coach Frank Hadden has recalled brothers Thom and Max Evans to the side for Saturday's clash.

The Glasgow stars were controversially omitted from the starting line-up for Sunday's opening defeat to Wales, with Thom not even in the 22.

Max came off the bench to score Scotland's only try in the 26-13 loss and is one of five changes to the side comprehensively beaten by the Grand Slam champions.

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