Italy's Sara Tounesi has been banned for 12 matches after being found guilty of biting a Japan player

Wellington (AFP) - Italy second-row forward Sara Tounesi was on Tuesday banned for 12 matches for biting an opponent in the women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Tounesi will miss this weekend’s quarter-final against France after being cited during the final pool match, a 21-8 victory against Japan on Sunday.

An independent judicial committee concluded that she had bitten the Japanese player, which is a red card offence under Law 9.12, and accordingly upheld the citing.

The law in question states:

“A player must not physically or verbally abuse anyone.

“Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, biting, punching, contact with the eye or eye area, striking with any part of the arm, shoulder, head or knee(s), stamping, trampling, tripping or kicking.”

The committee decided on a mid-range ban of 18 matches as punishment, but reduced it to 12 games having regard to mitigation.

Tounesi is suspended initially for Italy’s quarter-final against France on October 29 in Whangarei with the remaining matches to be determined once future playing schedules of Italy and the player are known.