Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Game is gone soft' - Brian O'Driscoll unimpressed with Chris Ashton's 10-week ban

Chris Ahston slings Luke Marshall to the ground after appearing to make contact with the Ulster centre's face
Chris Ahston slings Luke Marshall to the ground after appearing to make contact with the Ulster centre's face
Chris Ashton Newsdesk Newsdesk

Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been suspended for 10 weeks following an independent disciplinary hearing, European Professional Club Rugby has announced, after an allegation of eye gouging.

Ashton was cited for allegedly making contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall during Saturday's European Champions Cup match.

The incident occurred in the 16th minute of the Aviva Premiership side's 33-17 win over Les Kiss' team on Saturday at Allianz Park.

Referee Jerome Garces looked at the incident but decided to only award Ulster a penalty.

“Nothing clear and dangerous for me about the finger in the eyes,” said Garces, before explaining that Ashton should still be penalised for the way he cleared out the Ulster centre.

Former Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll was clearly unimpressed with the severity of the ban which will see the Saracens winger miss the Six Nations, he tweeted: "Commentated on the game live and there was no intent except to be physical! #gameisgoingsoft ."

England coach Jones said he was disappointed he would not be able to call on Ashton, but would leave naming a replacement until any possible appeal had been lodged.

In an interview on Sky Sports News, Jones said: "I'm disappointed for him. There's the potentiality of an appeal so we will wait to see what happens there before we make a final decision.

"Chris is a good player and he's been in good form. He was so keen to get back into the international fold, so it's disappointing, but again it opens up an opportunity for another player."

Jones said he had players in mind who could replace Ashton, but declined to name them.

"We've got a couple there that we'll look at and again we'll just wait to see how the appeal goes," he said.

Jones said he hoped Ashton would put the disappointment behind him.

He said: "Players have these sort of setbacks. I'm sure he's a good enough player to get over it, serve out his time if the suspension happens and then get back into it."

Asked if he felt punishments for disciplinary problems were too harsh, Jones said: "The suspensions are there for a reason. When you're suspended you've just got to take it on the chin and get on with it."

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