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Saints opt against Ashton appeal

Northampton have decided not to appeal against Chris Ashton's four-week ban.

The England wing was suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct after being found guilty of dragging Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi off the field by his hair. The incident, which occurred in the first half of Leicester's 30-25 Aviva Premiership victory at Welford Road, sparked a touchline brawl and led to Tuilagi and Northampton forward Tom Wood being sent off.

Northampton still disagree with the severity of Ashton's ban but announced they would not be taking up their right of appeal, releasing a statement which read: "Following considerable deliberation, the Northampton Saints team management has decided not to appeal against the sanction imposed upon Chris Ashton earlier this week."

It continued: "Although the management still believes the sanction was harsh, and imposed because of what happened afterwards rather than the action offence itself - something Judge Jeff Blackett noted in his own comments on Tuesday evening - the management also believes that it is best that a line is now drawn under the incident.

"Chris himself is determined to use this as a learning experience and to work hard over the next four weeks to become a better player for Northampton Saints and hopefully earn selection in England's Six Nations squad in the new year."

Ashton will miss Northampton's back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against Castres, the Christmas Eve Premiership clash with Bath and the New Year's Day trip to Newcastle.

The England wing will be available for Northampton again in time for the Friday night Premiership game against Harlequins on January 6.

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