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Dylan Hartley gets Six Nations reprieve after RFU hand down three-week ban

The Northampton captain pleaded guilty after elbowing an opponent.

Hartley played in the November internationals last month
Hartley played in the November internationals last month
Image: David Davies

ENGLAND HOOKER DYLAN Hartley has been cleared to play in next year’s Six Nations after receiving just a three-week ban for elbowing Leicester’s Matt Smith at the weekend.

Hartley pleaded guilty to the charge of striking Smith while playing for Northampton in their Premiership win over Leicester on Saturday.

The Saints captain faced the prospect of being handed a long suspension given his poor disciplinary record, but a Rugby Football Union hearing, held via conference call on Tuesday, opted for a more lenient approach.

A ban of six weeks or more would have jeopardised Hartley’s chances of appearing in the Six Nations, which gets underway with England’s clash against Wales in early February.

Ireland welcome England to Dublin on 1 March 2015.

Regardless, his international future remains uncertain in light of a previous disciplinary rap sheet including eye-gouging, biting, punching and swearing.

Here’s his roll of shame:

  • April 2007: Banned for 26 weeks after gouging Wasps’ duo James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor.
  • March 2012: Banned for eight weeks for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during Six Nations match.
  • June 2012: Yellow-carded in first game as England captain against South Africa.
  • December 2012: Given a two-week ban for striking Ulster’s Rory Best.
  • May 2013: Eleven-week ban after being sent off for swearing at the referee, which cost him a place in the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia — his place went to Best.

- © AFP, 2014

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