Northampton suspend Calum Clark after Leicester hooker breaks elbow

This article is more than 8 years old
Calum Clark faces RFU hearing over LV Cup final incident
Flanker 'hyperextended right arm of Rob Hawkins'
Calum Clark, Northampton
Northampton's Calum Clark has been accused of hyperextending the right arm of Leicester's Rob Hawkins in the LV Cup final. Photograph: Paul Harding/Action Images
Northampton's Calum Clark has been accused of hyperextending the right arm of Leicester's Rob Hawkins in the LV Cup final. Photograph: Paul Harding/Action Images
Press Association
Fri 23 Mar 2012 15.18 EDT

Northampton have announced that they have suspended the flanker Calum Clark from playing until further notice. Clark was cited and will face a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing next week following an alleged incident of foul play during last Sunday's LV Cup final between Saints and Leicester at Worcester.

Clark, an England elite squad member, is accused of an act contrary to good sportsmanship for hyperextending the right arm of the Tigers hooker Rob Hawkins. Hawkins suffered a broken elbow.

In a statement, Northampton said: "Northampton Saints have conducted an internal investigation regarding an alleged incident during last Sunday's LV Cup final. Following the completion of this investigation the club's management has suspended Calum Clark from playing until further notice. Northampton Saints will make no further comment about this issue."

It is a clear pre-emptive strike by Northampton before the 22-year-old Clark's RFU appearance at Twickenham on Thursday. Hawkins is not expected to play again this season as a result of the injury, and Clark, who captained Saints in the LV Cup final, could face a significant punishment.

Television footage of the game shows the former Bath forward Hawkins reeling away in agony from a 21st-minute ruck. It was an incident that enraged Leicester's director of rugby, Richard Cockerill.

"If Calum Clark is deemed to have done it on purpose it's pretty horrendous," Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester. "Something has gone on there, but we will let them look at it and sort it out. It's a pretty poor act. I think it is really out of order, and in my opinion it's as bad an injury as I've seen on a rugby field."

Clark, in the immediate term, will miss Northampton's Premiership clash at home to Wasps on Saturday. Saints are fourth in the table and pressing for a title play-off place. It promises to be a difficult week for Northampton, with their England hooker Dylan Hartley facing a Six Nations disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday 27 March. Hartley was cited for allegedly biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris's finger during the Six Nations clash between the countries at Twickenham last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Exeter have arrived at what their coach, Rob Baxter, describes as the season's "business end" still in contention for three significant prizes – despite playing fewer than 40 Aviva Premiership games and having had less than two campaigns among English rugby's elite.

Baxter's side head to Kingsholm on Saturday knowing that victory over sixth-placed Gloucester would keep them firmly in title play-off contention with four games left.

Exeter are also on course to secure Heineken Cup qualification for the first time, while an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against the French giants Stade Français is 12 days away.

"We are at that business end of the season now," Baxter said. "The guys are well-rested and they have had a good break, but they've come back now and we've knocked them back into shape and reminded them a little about being rugby players again."