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Dylan Hartley banned for eight weeks for biting


Hartley was also banned in 2007 for eye gouging

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Article Published: Wednesday 28 March 2012


England Hooker Dylan Hartley has been suspended for 8 weeks for biting Stephen Ferris in the England vs Ireland Six Nations match at Twickenham.

But the length of the ban means the Northampton forward will be available for England's three-Test tour of South Africa in June.

Hartley was cited following an incident with Ireland's Stephen Ferris during England's 30-9 Six Nations win at Twickenham on March 17 after a disciplinary panel found that he had contravened International Rugby Board Law 10.4(m) "acts contrary to good sportsmanship".

The panel heard evidence from back-row forward Ferris, via video link, as well as Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder and England forwards coach Graham Rowntree.

In upholding the citing for foul play, the panel, chaired by Roger Morris of Wales, decided the offence merited a low entry point in the IRB's table of sanctions and allowed mitigation of four weeks.

A biting offence carries a low-end entry point of a 12-week suspension, with 18 weeks for mid-range and 24-plus weeks at the top end.

New Zealand-born Hartley, 25, is free to play again on May 14 and he has the right of appeal.

Ferris was heard accusing an England player of biting during the match.

Biting is a red card offence but as neither referee Nigel Owens nor his touch judges saw the incident, no action was taken during the game.

Owens, in a conversation recorded on his microphone in the 28th minute, told England captain Chris Robshaw and Ireland skipper Rory Best: "I have an accusation of biting, a clear mark on the finger.

"I did not see something... It could be dealt with afterwards."

England's victory saw them finish second in the tournament, with Ireland in third place.

After the ban had been handed down Dylan Hartley said, "I am disappointed by the result and I will wait for the written judgment as to how the panel came to their conclusion. I now have to put it behind me and focus on supporting Saints in training and off the field."

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who attended the hearing to support Dylan, said: "It is unfortunate for Dylan and Northampton, especially as he was in good form during the Six Nations, and he has developed as a player and a leader. However, we are looking forward to him being available for the tour to South Africa."

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder added: "We are disappointed that Dylan has been suspended, especially at a crucial part of the season."

 
 
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