Saracens to appeal Chris Ashton's 10-week ban for making contact with Luke Marshall's eye
Saracens are to appeal the 10-week suspension given to England wing Chris Ashton for making contact with the eye area of Ulster's Luke Marshall.
The Aviva Premiership champions received the hearing's written judgement on Friday afternoon and, having consulted their legal team, they have opted to contest the severity of the punishment that currently rules Ashton out of the RBS 6 Nations.
"Ashton, who pleaded not guilty in the independent disciplinary hearing in London last Wednesday, will be appealing against the level of the sanction imposed," a Saracens statement read.
View the incident below:
Ashton pulled Marshall to the ground with his left arm in the Champions Cup victory at Allianz Park on January 16, while also grabbing the Irish international's face with his right hand.
In the written judgement, it was revealed that judicial officer Jean Noel Couraud viewed the tackle as a red card offence that exposed Marshall to the risk of serious injury.
Ashton's legal team argued that the contact with Marshall's face was entirely accidental and unintended, but Couraud rejected this defence in the belief he had acted recklessly.
Ashton's legal team believes that the entry-level sanction for the offence of 12 weeks would be "wholly disproportionate" for reasons including his good record and the lack of injury inflicted and requested that any suspension to be reduced by a minimum of 50 per recent.
The judicial officer, however, noted the need for a deterrent to combat this type of offence.
The suspension is a savage blow for Ashton, who had fought his way back into the England squad after falling out of favour under the previous regime because of his perceived defensive frailties.
New head coach Eddie Jones last week included him in his elite player squad for the Six Nations and Ashton, who has spent the previous 18 months in international exile, had been earmarked to start on the right wing against Scotland on February 6.
His absence robs England of their deadliest finisher - Ashton has crossed 19 times in 39 Test appearances with Ben Youngs the next highest on nine tries - and Jones has been waiting to see if Saracens would appeal against the length of the ban before calling in a permanent replacement.