Thursday 22 August 2019

Brian O'Driscoll points out how Dylan Hartley got a bit lucky with his ban

Dylan Hartley was today handed a six week ban for his dangerous tackle on Sean O'Brien in last Friday's Champions Cup clash between Northampton and Leinster - but it could have been a tougher sanction had the incident occurred in 2017.

The judgement on Hartley was released just hours after World Rugby announced their new guidelines for dealing with high tackles, set to come into effect from January 3rd.

Read more: England captain Dylan Hartley free to play in Six Nations after receiving six-week ban for striking Sean O'Brien

It is thought that high challenges, both reckless and accidental, will be punished more severely under these new rules, which makes the timing of Hartley's offence work in his favour.

The hooker's ban will run out just in time for the Six Nations, and Brian O'Driscoll thinks that the England captain is a little fortunate that he was punished when he was.

"I'd imagine it would have been a stiffer ban rather than six weeks, I think he was a bit fortunate that he did it in December rather than January," O'Driscoll said in a video on the Rugby Tonight Twitter account.

When Hartley does return, he will be very short of match practice but O'Driscoll is confident that he can still do a job for England in the Six Nations.

"The one thing I would say about hooker, and it is a very attritional position, realistically it is a 50-minute game now. Or conversely, is he good for 30 minutes off the bench in the first few games."

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And the Ireland legend also offered an interesting theory as to why Hartley seems to get in more disciplinary trouble when he is with his club rather than his country.

"I don't want to do a disservice to Joe Schmidt but the players are a little bit afraid of him. They don't want to do certain things on the pitch because they will get lambasted for it on a Monday. I wonder if Eddie Jones brings something similar."

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