England's Launchbury banned; out of games v Pumas, Australia

LONDON (AP) — England lock Joe Launchbury will miss the final two matches of the autumn rugby series after being found guilty of kicking Fiji center Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Launchbury appeared before a three-man independent disciplinary committee in London on Monday and accepted he committed an act of foul play that would have warranted a red card when he kicked Tikoirotuma in the head in the second half of England's 58-15 win on Saturday.

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The committee deemed the offense reckless rather than deliberate, and the low-end sanction of a four-week ban was reduced to two weeks due to Launchbury's admission of guilt, his previous clean disciplinary record and good conduct at the hearing.

Launchbury is free to play from Dec. 5, meaning he will miss games against Argentina and Australia over the next two Saturdays.

The injury-enforced absence of Maro Itoje and George Kruis offered Launchbury the chance to revise coach Eddie Jones' second-row pecking order, and he revived his lock partnership with Courtney Lawes that performed well in wins over South Africa and Fiji.

Kruis has made a quick recovery from ankle surgery and is available to start against the Pumas on Saturday.

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