/ Rugby

Chris Ashton out of England's autumn opener

Updated: Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 22:26 | Comments

Chris Ashton will miss England's autumn Test versus Fiji
Chris Ashton will miss England's autumn Test versus Fiji

Chris Ashton will miss England's opening QBE autumn international against Fiji after being suspended by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel.

Ashton was tonight banned for one week after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Northampton wing Vasily Artemyev.

The level one citing equated to an off-field yellow card, taking Ashton's tally for the season to three and triggering an automatic disciplinary hearing.

Ashton was previously shown yellow cards for dangerous charging in Saracens' matches against London Irish on 1 September and Exeter Chiefs on 23 September.

The one-week suspension runs from 4 November specifically to include the Fiji game because Ashton was not released by England to play for Saracens this weekend.

Ashton will be available for England's autumn Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand but he joins a lengthening list of absentees from the Fiji game.

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have both been ruled out of the match on 10 November with knee injuries while Jonathan Joseph is rated as doubtful after damaging his ankle at the weekend.

Ashton's suspension opens the way for Ugo Monye and Charlie Sharples to be England's likely starting wings against Fiji.

In the meantime, Ashton has been urged by the RFU's disciplinary panel to work on his tackle technique after effectively receiving three yellow cards for dangerous play this season.

Panel chairman Judge Jeff Blackett said: "We are concerned about his tackling technique and encouraged that he and his coaches work to correct it.

"We were guided by the IRB recommendation that a one week suspension was appropriate for totting up offences.

"The player was not released back to his club by England for Saracens' game on Sunday 4 November 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 would like to add that Chris Ashton took a realistic and mature approach to proceedings and expressed genuine contrition."

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