Ireland captain Johnny Sexton cops three-match ban for abusing match officials

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has copped a three-match suspension, but will be available for his team’s World Cup opener against Romania in France in September.

The 37-year-old first five-eighth was charged with misconduct after engaging in a heated exchange with match officials after Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle in May.

An independent disciplinary committee ruled Sexton’s behaviour “confrontational and aggressive towards and disrespectful of the match officials”.

The committee's report concluded: "It included his pointing his finger at them and shouting at them something to this effect: "it's a disgrace you guys can't get the big decisions right" probably accompanied by expletives "most likely the f-word".

"His conduct was obviously unsportsmanlike and brought the sport of rugby union into disrepute."

Sexton will miss Ireland’s pre-tournament warm-up games against Italy, England and Samoa.

The committee also handed Leinster a suspended fine of £7,500 ($NZ15,000) after upholding the charge of misconduct against the club.

Sexton and Leinster have until Thursday (NZT) to appeal.