Tuesday 27 September 2016

Saracens decide against appealing Chris Ashton's 13-week biting ban

Duncan Bech

Published 23/09/2016 | 12:28

Ashton was accused of biting Waller in the first half of an incident-packed match
Ashton was accused of biting Waller in the first half of an incident-packed match

Saracens have opted against appealing the 13-week ban given to Chris Ashton for biting after stating they accept the verdict of the disciplinary hearing.

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Ashton was cited for two incidents involving Northampton prop Alex Waller at Allianz Park last Saturday, spaced a minute apart, and while the second was rejected, the three-man panel found the England wing culpable for the first.

Saracens had until 5pm on Friday to lodge an appeal, but having contested his innocence and then argued for a reduction in the ban on account of character references, they will not pursue the matter further.

"The club has been fully supportive of Chris throughout this process and we are naturally disappointed to lose a player of his calibre for 13 weeks," director of rugby Mark McCall said.

"We put forward what we thought was a strong case for both charges to be dismissed but the decision to suspend Chris is one that we accept. No appeal will be lodged.

"We will continue to support Chris during his enforced time away from playing and help prepare him for his return to action in December."

At the hearing Ashton claimed "he had not bitten 100 per cent", insisting Waller's arm had become lodged in his open mouth, that he twisted his head away to remove the arm and did not clamp his teeth down on the limb.

The written judgement revealed that the panel felt the only question was if Waller's wound had been caused by the pressure of arm to teeth or by a bite and while they viewed the Northampton front row's testimony as "consistent and compelling", they found Ashton's account "very much less plausible".

Once it had been decided the level of offence was low end, with a guideline ban of 12 weeks, an extra week was added due to Ashton's previous two suspensions for hair pulling and making contact with eyes.

Efforts by Saracens to have the sanction reduced due to his good character and conduct at the hearing were dismissed.

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