- Dylan Hartley banned for eight weeks for acts contrary to good sportsmanship
- England hooker free to play again on May 14
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Dylan Hartley has been suspended from all rugby for eight weeks today for biting an opponent contrary to IRB Law 10.4(m) “acts contrary to good sportsmanship”.
The player’s hearing, before an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Roger Morris (Wales) and also comprising Rob Flockhart and Paul Minto (both Scotland), resulted from him being cited for an alleged bite on the finger of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris in the first half of England’s 30-9 RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham on March 17.
The Disciplinary Committee, in upholding the citing for foul play, decided that the offence merited a low entry point in the IRB’s table of sanctions and allowed mitigation of four weeks.
The Northampton Saints hooker 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.”
Hartley’s Director of Rugby at Northampton, Jim Mallinder, is disappointed to lose his player for a significant part of the season and said: "We are disappointed that Dylan has been suspended, especially at a crucial part of the season."
Hartley’s period of suspension ends on May 13, 2012, and he is free to play on May 14, 2012. He has the right of appeal.
The 26-year-old, who started all five RBS 6 Nations games, will be available for selection for England’s three-match tour to South Africa in June, with Tests scheduled on June 9, 16, and 23.
England Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree attended the hearing to support Hartley and 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."