Ashton chews on long ban after double bite

LONDON • Rugby union player Chris Ashton faces a suspension running into months rather than weeks, after being cited for two separate incidents of biting and an almost certain end to his international career.

The Saracens and England wing will appear before a disciplinary panel in London to answer a charge that he bit the Northampton prop Alex Waller last Saturday during the Premiership match at Allianz Park in north London in the 24th minute and again 60 seconds later.

Waller has not been cited for the incident involving Ashton when he appeared to put his hand across the lower part of the wing's face, or two others in the second half when he tackled Jamie George to the ground off the ball and the hooker had to break his fall with his left arm and then had a meeting of heads as the pair grappled on the floor.

At the time, he complained to referee Greg Garne, who told him the matter would be reviewed after the match. It was taken up by the citing commissioner, Mike Rafter, who brought the charges against Ashton.

The low entry point for a player found guilty of biting is 12 weeks, which can be cut by up to half if there are mitigating circumstances, such as a guilty plea, contrition and a previously good disciplinary record.

Ashton does not have the latter, having been banned for 10 weeks in January for making contact with the eye area of the Ulster centre Luke Marshall and received a four-week suspension at the end of 2011 for pulling the hair of the Leicester wing Alesana Tuilagi.

He was sent to the sin-bin five times in his first season with Saracens in 2012-13, picking up a one-match ban.

The twenty nine-year-old Ashton won the last of his 39 caps in 2014.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2016, with the headline 'Ashton chews on long ban after double bite'. Print Edition | Subscribe