Six Nations

Ashton to miss Six Nations, guilty of eye gouging

Chris Ashton (AFP)
Chris Ashton (AFP)

London - England wing Chris Ashton will miss the Six Nations after he was banned for 10 weeks by European Professional Club Rugby's disciplinary body on Wednesday.

In-form Saracens back Ashton was accused of eye-gouging after grabbing Ulster centre Luke Marshall around the head during Saturday's European Champions Cup match, which the English Premiership leaders won 33-17.

"In upholding the citing complaint, the judicial officer found that Ashton had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card," European Professional Club Rugby said in a statement after a hearing in London.

"He determined that that offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and selected 12 weeks as the appropriate entry point.

"He added one week as a deterrent according to World Rugby's memorandum regarding offences of this nature, before reducing the sanction by three weeks due to Ashton's good character and good conduct at the hearing."

Ashton, who pleaded not guilty, has the right to appeal against the decision.

The ban is due to end on March 28, nine days after England's final Six Nations match against France in Paris.

Ashton fell out of favour with previous England boss Stuart Lancaster despite a glorious start to his international career that saw him score some impressive tries, including one length-of-the-field effort against Australia in November 2010.

He was overlooked by Lancaster for last year's World Cup on home soil, but was recalled to the squad last week by new head coach Eddie Jones.

The 28-year-old convert from rugby league has scored 19 tries in 39 tests for England, although his defensive qualities have often been criticised. His last cap came against New Zealand 18 months ago.

England open their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6.

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