Friday 19 October 2018

Dylan Hartley cleared to play for England in autumn internationals after citing is thrown out

Northampton Saints Dylan Hartley
Northampton Saints Dylan Hartley

Duncan Bech

Dylan Hartley has been cleared to lead England into their autumn series after his citing for striking was dismissed by an independent disciplinary hearing.

Hartley was sent to the sin-bin for striking Clermont prop Rabah Slimani during Northampton's 24-7 Champions Cup defeat on Saturday and, having pleaded not guilty to the offence, it was decided by the panel that he should receive no further sanction.

"It was found Hartley had committed a reckless act of foul play in that he had struck Slimani in the face. However, the committee was not satisfied that the offence had warranted a red card," read a statement issued by tournament organisers.

The entry-point sanction for striking with the hand is a two-week ban, rising to eight weeks and above according to severity.

Although the offence was deemed minor, Hartley's dismal disciplinary record that has robbed him of 60 weeks of his career threatened to increase any sanction given and prevent him from captaining England next month.

Argentina, Australia and Samoa visit Twickenham on successive weekends and while the Northampton hooker is under pressure from Jamie George for his place in the front row, he is set to be retained in the role he has performed throughout Eddie Jones' reign.

After the defeat at Clermont, Hartley received support from the unlikely source of his opposite number Benjamin Kayser.

"I think a sanction was merited because a penalty is a penalty and, if he deserved yellow, it was a yellow. Should it have been a red card? No, come on," France hooker Kayser said.

"Rugby is rugby and if you say that any hit on the head is a red card, there will be 25 a match. The last thing we want is to go out and start playing on the rules and to start saying to the referee 'it was a cheap shot.'

"We are not football. We are just here to play hard and to keep on going. I don't think it was a red card, just a yellow."

Online Editors

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