Andrew Hore receives five-week suspension
All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore feels he let down his country, his team and himself after being suspended for five weeks for his deliberate swinging arm that knocked out Wales lock Bradley Davies in Cardiff last week.
Hore will miss Sunday's test against England and the first round of next year's Super Rugby season with his ban running through to February 24.
The IRB judiciary found Hore guilty of an intentional swinging arm and handed him the top end sanction of eight weeks.
His suspension was reduced by three weeks for his exemplary record during a 74-test career, genuine remorse and daily contact with Davies.
Hore called and texted Davies the day after the incident to apologise and check on his wellbeing.
Scottish judicial officer Lorne Crerar found Hore's swinging arm had been "inherently dangerous" and was "delivered with significant force" to an unsighted player.
However, he ruled Hore did not intend to make contact with Davies' head.
The 34-year-old's suspension includes the Highlanders' three Super Rugby pre-season matches next year, even though he was unlikely to play the majority of those as most All Blacks are granted leave through December and January, after the their test season concludes at Twickenham this weekend.
The judicial officer received unreserved assurances from All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster that the pre-season matches had "significant and meaningful consequences" for the newly-appointed Highlanders captain.
After the hearing in Bristol a clean-shaven, sorry Hore fronted to media in London to explain the need to rebuild his reputation.
"I want to say how bad I feel and embarrassed to be in this situation," he said. "It's not the All Black way. I've let myself and the team down and probably the whole country that's pretty proud of what we do.
"I hope Bradley Davies gets back up and running and playing in the Heineken Cup as soon as he can. I've been on the phone. I talked to him on Sunday about the incident. The All Black management and senior leadership group has been pretty stern on me as well for getting us in this situation.
"Hopefully I can take what I've got and start building my reputation as a good clean hard footy player. Hopefully I can do that in the next Super Rugby season when I get back playing."
Hore felt it was an error in judgement which led to Davies being hospitalised.
"I was just trying to do my job by getting around and cleaning a ruck. I made a bad decision which has ended up with me being here," he said.
Foster moved to defend the silence surrounding the issue from the All Blacks' camp this week, saying it was important to follow protocol.
"We haven't said anything on this issue because there was a hearing," Foster said. "We're satisfied with the process we've been through. It's nice to hear Andrew express remorse for Bradley. It was good to put some context around the situation. He's been suspended. It's at the high level and he's accepted responsibility."
The All Blacks have been widely criticised - labelled thugs and cowards - in the wake of Adam Thomson and Hore's acts, but coach Steve Hansen believed the fallout was unjustified.
"We've played a lot of rugby this year. Two citings, though they are bad and we'll take responsibility for them, I don't think that makes us a dirty team either," he said.
"It's just unfortunate they both happened in such close proximity to each other. We're embarrassed by it too. We don't want to be seen to be a side like that because we don't play like that."
Earlier today, Hansen revealed Hore was embarrassed by the incident.
"I know Andrew is extremely embarrassed at the moment. He' splayed 300 first-class games and he's never been in front of a judicial committee before," Hansen said.
"In speaking to him his intensions were certainly not to hurt this guy.
"What he intended to do and what he ended up doing were two different things. He accepts he got it wrong and got it wrong badly. He knows he made a mistake.
"I'm happy to believe that his intent wasn't malice. I'm happy to believe he's made a mistake."
In other citings, Wallabies second-rower Sitaleki Timani has received a one week suspension for striking Italian prop Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina with his forearm. He will miss this weekend's test against Wales in Cardiff.