Saturday 17 March 2018

Saracens ponder Ashton appeal

Saracens are considering whether to appeal the 10-week suspension that has ruled Chris Ashton out of England's entire Six Nations campaign.

Ashton has been banned until March 28 after being found guilty of making contact with the eye or eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall in the first half of Saracens' 33-17 Champions Cup victory on Saturday.

The 28-year-old grabbed Marshall around the neck and pulled him to the ground, with his hands sliding over the Ireland centre's face. Marshall complained about the contact and upon reviewing the incident, referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty.

The citing officer subsequently lodged a complaint that has been upheld by an independent disciplinary hearing and Saracens have 72 hours to decide whether to appeal.

It 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.

New coach Eddie Jones last week included him in his Six Nations squad, 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.

Jones will wait to see if Saracens appeal before calling in a replacement.

Irish Independent

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