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British & Irish Lions
Dylan Hartley not to appeal 'f****** cheat' ban
ESPN Staff
May 29, 2013
Referee Wayne Barnes shows Dylan Hartley a red card, Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership Final, Twickenham, May 25, 2013
Referee Wayne Barnes shows Dylan Hartley the red card which ended his Lions dreams © PA Photos
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As expected, Dylan Hartley will not appeal against his 11-week ban for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in last Saturday's Premiership final. That finally rules him out of the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

Hartley was red carded in Northampton's defeat by Leicester for swearing at Barnes and calling him a "f****** cheat" after a penalty decision went against his team. Barnes had already warned him about comments he had made.

A tale of trouble

  • 2007 - 26-week ban for gouging during a Premiership match causes him to miss the 2007 World Cup
    2012 - Eight-week ban for biting Ireland's Stephen Ferris in a Six Nations match
    2012 - Two-week ban after being found guilty for punching in a Heineken Cup tie
    2013 - 11-week ban for calling the referee a 'f****** cheat' during the Aviva Premiership final

Hartley's defence was based on his assertion he was talking to opposing hooker Tom Youngs but a RFU disciplinary hearing did not accept his explanation. "The referee had no doubt that the words were directed at him," a spokesman for the board said. "There is no reason why the referee should make this up, and we accept that he would have given the player the benefit of any doubt.

"He was close enough to know what was said and what was meant."

The spokesman also said Hartley appeared to have changed his claims at the hearing. "We believe that he quickly regretted what he had done and that as soon as he left the field of play he told his team management that he had directed the comments to Tom Youngs, who was on the ground after the scrum had collapsed.

"We observed that this account changed subtly, no doubt after he had examined the DVD footage showing that his eyes were not looking downwards. The version provided to the panel was that he had spoken to Soane Tonga'uiha, who was between him and the referee, about Tom Youngs and then looked down at Youngs.

"In our view this is not a credible explanation."

Hartley will be free to play again on September 1, 2013.

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