- Ashton banned for four weeks after Welford Road clash
- Wood and Tuilagi red cards deemed appropriate punishment
England and Northampton Saints wing Chris Ashton was this evening suspended for four weeks for an act contrary to good sportsmanship (Law 10(4)(m).
Ashton, 24, was found guilty of pulling Alesana Tuilagi by his hair and dragging him from the field of play during the Aviva Premiership match against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday, December 3.
The Saints wing, who denied the offence, was suspended from December 7 to January 3 by an RFU Disciplinary Panel of His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett (chair), Jeremy Summers and Christopher Quinlan QC in the Offices of the Judge Advocate General in the Royal Courts of Justice, London. He can play again on January 4.
His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU Disciplinary Officer said: “We accepted that this started by accident but it became clear that at some stage Chris Ashton knew what he was doing.
“If you pull somebody by the hair there is an element of denigration and this act was a catalyst for a mass brawl that resulted in two red cards and significantly affected the image of the game.
"Without any laid down guidance on sanction we have aligned the offence to that of spitting and reduced the entry level points to that off three, six and 10 weeks for low, mid-range and top end respectively. This was a mid-range offence but we have reduced the sanction by two weeks based on the player’s good good record and conduct at the hearing.”
He was also ordered to pay £500 in costs. Any appeal must be lodged within 48 hours of receipt of the judgement.
Wood and Tuilagi escape bans
The red cards issued to Tom Wood of Northampton Saints and Alesana Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers for striking were deemed to be sufficient and both can continue to play.
Citing Commissioner Mike Rafter has also issued Level One citings – the equivalent of a yellow card – to Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers), Horacio Agulla (Leicester Tigers) and Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) for their part in the same incident. The three players were not required to appear before the panel and can continue playing.
There was however a ban for Saints man Phil Dowson who was suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle, contrary to Law 10(4)(j), on Saracens’ Alex Goode during the Aviva Premiership match at Franklin’s Gardens on November 26, 2011.
Dowson, who pleaded guilty, was suspended from December 7 to December 20 by an RFU Disciplinary Panel of His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett, Jeremy Summers and Christopher Quinlan QC in the Offices of the Judge Advocate General in the Royal Courts of Justice, London.
The panel deemed that the offence merited a low end entry point sanction of three weeks but gave the player credit for his guilty plea. He can play again on December 21. He was also ordered to pay £500 in costs.