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Saints Consider Ashton Appeal
Club could contest citation
Posted Dec 08, 2011 by Chris White
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Northampton and England winger Chris Ashton has been banned for four weeks by the RFU for “an act contrary to good sportsmanship.” The charge relates to an incident in which Ashton appeared to drag Leicester’s Alesana Tuilagi into touch by his hair.
Northampton are considering whether or not to appeal against the ban, which means he will miss two Heineken Cup matches against Castres, home and away, and two Aviva Premiership fixtures, against Bath and Newcastle.
As a result of the incident, a brawl broke out and Tuilagi and Saints flanker Tom Wood were sent off by referee Wayne Barnes, but Ashton remained on the field, and managed to get himself on the scoresheet in the process. As it stands, Ashton will not pull on a Northampton shirt again until 4th January, however, the club are hoping to have this sentence reduced.
Saints boss Jim Mallinder has called the four-week ban “harsh” and has 48 hours to decide whether or not to make an appeal. “Whether four weeks is the right length of time for a ban remains to be seen,” Mallinder said. “It’s not ideal. He didn’t mean to do it, but he did grab his hair, without doubt. Tuilagi is a big man and he needs to be stopped, but he got away.
“Chris managed to stop him, but not by legal means. Chris is devastated by the length of the ban and he just wants to play rugby, and he’s not going to be able to,” he added.
In relation to the pitch side brawl, Mallinder commented, “You don’t want fighting. But it’s a physical game and there is a fine balance between emotion and aggression, particularly between Leicester and Northampton. Sometimes it can overflow and you need a referee who can calm things down.”
The RFU will not be punishing Tuilagi and Wood any further, deeming that their red cards in the match were sufficient.
There was worse news for Northampton, who found out that Phil Dowson has picked up a two-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Alex Goode in the Premiership match against Saracens on 26th November.