Fritz banned for three weeks
Centre to miss Scotland and Wales matches
Last Updated: February 11, 2009 7:12pm
Fritz: Misses Scotland and Wales matches
Florian Fritz will miss France's Six Nations matches against Scotland and Wales after receiving a three-week suspension for striking an opponent during their opening game against Ireland.
However, the Toulouse centre was cleared of eye-gouging an unnamed Ireland player - believed to be Stephen Ferris - during last Saturday's match in Dublin.
He can return to action on March 2, meaning he will be able to play in France's final two Six Nations matches, visits 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.
"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," read a statement from the disciplinary panel.
"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."
Fritz will be replaced for the Scotland match by Benoit Baby, with Maxime Mermoz included among the replacements.
Mermoz, the Perpignan centre, was called up by France as potential cover for Fritz and Baby, and trained with the squad on Wednesday.
Fritz will also miss the February 27 encounter with Grand Slam champions Wales in Paris.
France team manager Jo Maso said he was pleased with the disciplinary panel's verdict.
"The gouging was not recognised," he 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."