Ban rules out England wing Ashton’s 6N comeback

England and Saracens winger Chris Ashton will miss the 2016 Six Nations championship after being banned for 10 weeks.

Ashton was included in the England squad and had hoped to make it back into the England team under new coach Eddie Jones.

The Saracens winger was cited by the match Citing Commissioner, Yves Thieffine (France), for allegedly making contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area of the Ulster Rugby centre, Luke Marshall (No 13), in the 16th minute of the European Rugby Champions Cup Round 5 match at Allianz Park in contravention of Law 10.4 (m).

An independent Disciplinary Hearing found him guilty and suspended him for 10 weeks which rules him out until Monday, 28 March 2016 unless he appeals.

Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 10.4 (m), Contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 12 weeks; Mid-Range: 18 weeks; Top End: 24 to 208 weeks.

The independent Judicial Officer, Jean-Noel Couraud (France), heard evidence and submissions from Ashton, who pleaded not guilty to the offence, from the Saracens Team Manager, JP O’Reilly, from the Saracens legal representative, Chris Smith, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

In upholding the citing complaint, the Judicial Officer found that Ashton had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card. He determined that that offence was at the low end of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected 12 weeks as the appropriate entry point.

He added one week as a deterrent according to World Rugby’s memorandum regarding offences of this nature, before reducing the sanction by three weeks due to Ashton’s good character and good conduct at the hearing. He then imposed a suspension of 10 weeks.

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