Saints hooker Hartley hit with six-week ban

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Dylan Hartley has been hit with a six-week suspension after being sent off in Saints’ defeat to Leinster last Friday.

The hooker was dismissed by referee Jerome Garces for striking flanker Sean O’Brien in the face.

Hartley had only been on the field for six minutes, having entered the action as a 52nd-minute replacement for Mike Haywood.

And Saints went on to lose the Champions Cup clash 37-10 at Franklin’s Gardens.

It was Hartley’s first appearance for Saints since skippering England to a 13th successive win during 2016.

But the 30-year-old, who has only played nine times for his club during the calendar year, will now be unavailable until Monday, January 23.

That will mean he can play in the Anglo-Welsh Cup game at Leicester Tigers before England start their Six Nations campaign against France at Twickenham on February 4.

Hartley pleaded guilty at Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing and though he had two weeks added to his ban for previous bad behaviour - he has now been banned for 60 weeks during his career - he saw one week taken off for his plea.

The EPCR statement read: “An independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Simon Thomas (Wales), Chairman, Rhian Williams (Wales) and Marco Cordelli (Italy) heard submissions from Hartley, who pleaded guilty to the offence, as well as from the player’s legal representative, Richard Smith QC, and the Northampton Saints team manager, Paul Shields. The Committee also heard evidence and submissions from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.

“In upholding the red card decision, the Committee found that the offence was at the mid-range of World Rugby’s sanctions and selected five weeks as the appropriate entry point.

“Taking into account Hartley’s poor disciplinary record, the Committee added two weeks to the sanction and then reduced the sanction by one week due to the player’s guilty plea before imposing a suspension of six weeks.

“Hartley is free to play on Monday, 23 January 2017. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.”