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Hartley set to discover fate

England hooker Dylan Hartley will find out on Tuesday whether he faces the second major suspension of his professional career after being cited for allegedly biting an opponent.

The 26-year-old Northampton captain, who has won 39 caps for his country, faces a disciplinary hearing after being accused of biting the finger of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during England's 30-9 RBS 6 Nations victory on March 17.

The offence carries a low-end entry point of a 12-week suspension, which would put Hartley's participation in England's summer tour in doubt.

The mid-range punishment for biting is 18 weeks while there is a ban of 24-plus weeks at the top end in the International Rugby Board's disciplinary sanctions table. The maximum sanction is a four-year punishment.

Hartley, who was born in New Zealand but qualified for red rose duty through his English-born mother, served a 26-week ban for gouging in 2007 after being cited for making contact with the eye areas of Wasps players Jonny O'Connor, James Haskell and Joe Worsley during a Premiership fixture.

Hartley pleaded not guilty on all three counts, but a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel found him guilty in relation to the offences against Haskell and O'Connor, but he was cleared on the Worsley charge.

The incident with Ferris occurred during the 28th minute of England's comfortable Twickenham win, which saw them secure second place in the Six Nations table after an encouraging campaign under interim coach Stuart Lancaster.

Television footage did not capture the alleged incident but Ferris and some of his team-mates complained to Welsh referee Nigel Owens in the immediate aftermath.

The charge of an act "contrary to good sportsmanship" against Hartley was brought by the Italian citing commissioner Alberto Recaldini after reviewing footage but Recaldini incorrectly documented that the incident took place in the 23rd minute, when it fact it occurred in the 28th minute.

Press Association Sport understands Recaldini has acknowledged the mistake in his report.


From Belfast Telegraph