Hartley handed two-week ban for Best clash
LONDON (AFP) –
Northampton captain Dylan Hartley was handed a two-week suspension on Thursday after being cited for foul play following a clash with Ulster’s Rory Best in a European Cup tie.
England hooker Hartley pleaded guilty after being charged with striking Best, a potential rival for the number two shirt in next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, during last Friday’s Pool Four encounter at Franklin’s Gardens.
Hartley will miss Northampton’s return fixture against Ulster in Belfast on Saturday, as well as the Premiership fixture against Harlequins on December 22.
Roger Morris, an independent judicial officer, heard evidence and submissions by video conference from Hartley and his legal representative, in addition to European Rugby Cup (ERC) disciplinary officer Roger O’Connor.
“The judicial officer upheld the citing and employing the IRB (International Rugby Board) recommended sanctions for Law 10.4(a), determined that the offence was at the low-end entry point of two weeks,” an ERC statement announced.
“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.
“Hartley will be free to play on 24 December 2012. Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision.”
It is not the first time New Zealand-born Hartley has found himself in disciplinary trouble.
He received a 26-week ban in 2007 after being found guilty of gouging two Wasps players in a Premiership match.
Earlier this year he was cited for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during a Six Nations game that saw him land an eight-week suspension.