Saints appeal Hartley’s suspension

Northampton Saints have lodged an appeal against Dylan Hartley’s 26-week ban for eye-gouging.

A Rugby Football Union (RFU) disciplinary panel found the hooker guilty of “illegally making contact with the eye or eye areas” of Wasps back-row forwards James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor during Northampton’s 35-29 Guinness Premiership defeat to Wasps at Adams Park on April 15.

The appeal will be heard in London on May 3, with Hartley not being selected by Northampton until the matter is resolved.

Hartley is currently suspended until October 17, three days before the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The uncapped 21-year-old, who was born in New Zealand but qualifies for England on residency grounds, was rated as a strong contender to make England’s two-Test South Africa tour next month, and then possibly the Rugby World Cup squad.

But he is now reeling from what is thought to be the longest suspension dished out to a top-flight England player since Bath prop Kevin Yates was found guilty of ear-biting in 1998.

He will miss relegation-threatened Northampton’s Guinness Premiership clash against London Irish on Saturday, when defeat would effectively send Saints sliding into National League One.

 

365 Digital

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