Northampton Saint Hartley escapes lengthy ban

England Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley has escaped a lengthy ban for striking Ulster hooker Rory Best but will have to sit out for two weeks on suspension.

Hartley could have been given a ban of up to one year but has only been given a two week suspension and is free to play on the 24 December 2012 and will miss the return match against Ulster.

Hartley attended an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from a citing from the Heineken Cup Round 3, Pool 4 match against Ulster Rugby on Friday, 7 December 2012.

Hartley was alleged to have struck Ulster’s Best (No 2), during the second half of the match at Franklin’s Gardens in contravention of Law 10.4(a). The complaint was made by Citing Commissioner, Jean-Claude Legendre (France).

The independent Judicial Officer, Roger Morris (Wales), heard evidence and submissions by video conference from Hartley who pleaded guilty to the offence, and from his legal representative Richard Smith QC. Submissions were also heard from ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O’Connor.

The Judicial Officer upheld the citing and employing the IRB recommended sanctions for Law 10.4(a), determined that the offence was at the low-end entry point of two weeks.

When considering relevant aggravating factors the Judicial Officer added one week for the player’s disciplinary record and then subsequently reduced the suspension by one week for the player’s conduct during the hearing and guilty plea.

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