Heineken Cup
Hartley cited for Best incident
ESPN Staff
December 10, 2012
Dylan Hartley carries the ball during Northampton training, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, January 5, 2011
Dylan Hartley awaits his fate © Getty Images

Hartley's disciplinary record

  • April 2007: Banned for 26 weeks after being found guilty of eye-gouging Wasps players James Haskell and Jonny O'Connor
  • March 2012: Banned for eight weeks for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during the Six Nations clash at Twickenham
  • December 2012: Cited for allegedly striking Ulster hooker Rory Best with an arm during the Heineken Cup clash at Franklin's Gardens

England hooker Dylan Hartley could face a lengthy ban after he was cited for striking Rory Best during Northampton's Heineken Cup defeat to Ulster on Friday.

Hartley has been reported to the European Rugby Cup by match commissioner Jean-Claude Legendre for striking the Ireland international with his arm during the Saints' 25-6 defeat at Franklin's Gardens.

The 26-year-old, who only recently returned to action after suffering an injury that sidelined him from England's autumn Test campaign, will face a disciplinary hearing, probably this week.

The International Rugby Board sanctions for striking with the fist or arm range between a two-week ban and a maximum suspension of a year. Hartley therefore faces an anxious wait to discover his fate as Northampton travel to Belfast next Saturday needing victory to keep their hopes of a quarter-final place alive.

"Hartley is alleged to have struck Ulster Rugby forward Rory Best with his arm during the second half of the match at Franklin's Gardens," ERC said in a statement.

"Details of the hearing date and the appointed independent judicial officer will be announced shortly."

Hartley was banned for 26 weeks in April 2007 after being found guilty of eye-gouging Wasps players James Haskell and Jonny O'Connor. And earlier this year, he received an eight-week ban after he was cited for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during a Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

If Hartley is suspended for the Best incident, he could miss forthcoming Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup games for Northampton and it could also jeopardise his chances of reclaiming the England hooking berth that was impressively filled by Leicester's Tom Youngs during the autumn games.

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