Chris Ashton ruled out of Fiji clash
October 31, 2012
Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been ruled out of England's opening end of year international against Fiji on November 10 © Getty Images
England winger Chris Ashton has been ruled out of his side's clash with Fiji next month after being handed a one-match suspension by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel.
The 25-year-old was cited for a dangerous tackle following Saracens' Aviva Premiership victory over Northampton last weekend with the citing equating to an off-field yellow card. It was Ashton's third of the season following sin-binnings against London Irish and Exeter and triggered an automatic disciplinary hearing.
Ashton's ban, handed down by a panel chaired by the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett, does not include Saracens' Premiership clash with London Wasps on Sunday as the winger has not been released by England.
The loss of Ashton, who has scored 15 tries in 26 Tests, adds to England coach Stuart Lancaster's selection headache having already lost the services of Northampton fullback Ben Foden to an ankle injury and more recently the Saints duo of hooker Dylan Hartley and lock Courtney Lawes to knee injuries.
The suspension begins on November 4 and Ashton is free to play again on November 11 with Harlequins' Ugo Monye and Gloucester's Charlie Sharples now set to be England's starting wings against Fiji. Ashton is likely to return to the selection mix for the games against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
Judge Blackett urged Ashton to work on his tackle technique after effectively receiving three yellow cards for dangerous play this season. "We were guided by the IRB recommendation that a one week suspension was appropriate for totting up offences," he said. "The player was not released back to his club by England for their game on Sunday November 4 so it would be inappropriate to commence the suspension immediately.
"We have therefore deferred commencement until Sunday November 4 so he misses a game he would have played in. We are concerned about his technique and encouraged that he and his coaches are working to correct it. We would like to add that Chris Ashton took a realistic and mature approach to proceedings and expressed genuine contrition."
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