Hartley cleared, Marler punished
DISCIPLINARY UPDATE: Seems like England head coach Eddie Jones' mission to scout for a stand-in captain has been halted ahead of the November Test Series.
Just a few days ago England faced a tough task after Dylan Hartley was cited following the weekend's Champions Cup action.
However, the skipper Hartley will be available for Eddie Jones' November Test Series side after being cleared by the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR).
The Northampton Saints hooker Hartley was charged with striking ASM Clermont Auvergne prop Rabah Slimani in the face during their Champions Cup match last weekend.
He was shown a yellow card by the referee, Ben Whitehouse (Wales), following the incident.
On Wednesday he had a disciplinary hearing, which determined that Hartley had committed a reckless act of foul play in that he had struck Slimani in the face, however, the committee was not satisfied that the offence had warranted a red card.
The citing complaint was therefore dismissed and Hartley is free to play.
Northampton Saints' director of rugby Jim Mallinder said:
"The decision to cite Dylan from Saturday’s game against Clermont was unjustified. This was a run-of-the-mill rugby incident during a high-intensity game of European rugby.
"Anyone who watched the game could see that this was completely accidental – a misjudgement at a clear–out, plain and simple. When we should be preparing for a crucial league game against Wasps this Saturday, we have instead been distracted by what we believe was an unwarranted judicial hearing.
"Citings like this do beg the question of whether Dylan is being singled out for what has happened in the past rather than being judged solely on Saturday’s game,"
While, the England captain Hartley might have been cleared, prop Joe Marley does not have similar luck.
The Harlequins prop has been suspended for three weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in London.
He was cited by the match citing Commissioner, Murray Whyte (Ireland), for striking the Wasps second row, Will Rowlands, with his elbow in the 48th minute of the match in contravention of Law 10.4 (a).
Marler pleaded guilty and the committee determined that the offence had warranted a red card, but decided after consideration that the strike by the player was with the arm rather than the elbow.
Consequently, Marler's four-week suspension was reduced by a week due to the player's guilty plea.
Marler will only return to action on November 19, which means the prop misses the clash against Argentina on November 11 and the match against Australia a week later.
* Meanwhile Harlequins player Dave Ward has been suspended for three weeks, arising from his club's Champions Cup, Round Two match against Wasps.
Ward was cited by the match citing commissioner Murray Whyte (Ireland), for striking the Wasps flank Thomas Young with his head in the 47th minute of the match in contravention of Law 10.4 (a).
An disciplinary committee consisting of Chairman Julian Morris (England), Philippe Cavalieros (France) and Owain Rhys James (Wales), heard evidence and submissions from Ward, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, from the player's legal representative, Sam Jones, from the Harlequins Team Manager, Graeme Bowerbank, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
The committee upheld the citing complaint and determined that offence warranted a red card. The Committee found that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and selected four weeks as the appropriate entry point.
As there were no aggravating factors, and taking into account Ward's good disciplinary record, the Committee decided to reduce the sanction by one week before imposing a suspension of three weeks.
Ward is free to play on Monday, November 13 - with both he and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.