Saturday 17 August 2019

'I'm surprised certain people didn't see it as a red' - Brian O'Driscoll adamant that Dylan Hartley must accept ban

Brian O'Driscoll said Hartley's high tackle was a 'cut and dried' red card
Brian O'Driscoll said Hartley's high tackle was a 'cut and dried' red card

Duncan Bech

Dylan Hartley will learn on Wednesday if he will be available to lead England into the RBS 6 Nations after being sent off for the third time in his career.

Hartley will appear before an independent hearing to discover the length of the ban imposed for his stiff-arm tackle on Sean O'Brien in Northampton's Champions Cup defeat by Leinster on Friday night.

O'Brien failed a head injury assessment after being struck from behind by the blow from England's captain, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes as a second-half replacement.

Details of the charge Hartley faces have yet to be issued - the offence could fall under striking or dangerous tackle - but given his atrocious disciplinary record, a substantial ban is certain.

A suspension of eight weeks and above would rule him out of the Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on February 4, resulting in the likely promotion of Owen Farrell to the captaincy.

The tackle has been widely condemned and has left England head coach Eddie Jones facing awkward questions having appointed Hartley as skipper despite a rap sheet that includes biting, gouging, butting and swearing at a referee.

In his defence, Hartley has led the national team with distinction throughout Jones' reign and has been at the helm for a flawless first year comprising of 13 successive victories.

Former Ireland and British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll insists Hartley will have to accept the outcome of the hearing without complaint.

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"It was incredibly reckless, a definite red card. There were no complaints from him, (Northampton director of rugby) Jim Mallinder, or most people," BT Sport rugby pundit O'Driscoll said.

"We just have to wait and see what the disciplinary hearing makes of it. He's tried to come on and make an impact, but even if it only catches his body, it's still a yellow card because a swinging arm is a swinging arm. You have to make an attempt to make a wrap.

"That was a swinging arm and it was cut and dried for me. I'm just surprised that certain people did see it that way, because I thought it was as clear cut as I've seen.

"It is the first time that Eddie has had to deal with ill-discipline in his tenure. Beforehand he inherited a guy with disciplinary issues but he was not the head man. Now he is, so it will be very interesting to see what comes of it.

"Dylan has been very good by the sounds of things, he has played well for England and they are on a massive winning streak, but your captain needs to be playing.

"Dylan needs game time too in the lead up to the Six Nations. It is very hard for any player to come straight into an international having been laid off for six to eight weeks."

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