Dylan Hartley is set to appear before an independent hearing to discover the length of the ban he will receive for striking Sean O’Brien in the Champions Cup on Friday night.
Having only been on the pitch for six minutes, Hartley recklessly swung a stiff arm that landed on O’Brien’s head with such force that the Leinster forward failed a head injury assessment in the moments that followed.
It is unknown at present whether the English captain will face charges for striking or making dangerous tackle. However, given the fact that Hartley has a poor disciplinary record (spending 54 weeks of his career suspended already) a significant ban seems likely.
Speaking about the incident, former Ireland captain and BT Pundit, Brian O’Driscoll, stated that the 30-year-old’s actions were unacceptable and that he couldn’t understand the few who are trying to defend them.
“It was incredibly reckless, a definite red card. There were no complaints from him, Jim Mallinder, or most people,” O’Driscoll said.
“We just have to wait and see what the disciplinary hearing makes of it. He’s tried to come on and make an impact, but even if it only catches his body, it’s still a yellow card because a swinging arm is a swinging arm. You have to make an attempt to make a wrap.
“That was a swinging arm and it was cut and dried for me. I’m just surprised that certain people didn’t see it that way, because I thought it was as clear cut as I’ve seen.
“It is the first time that Eddie has had to deal with ill-discipline in his tenure. Beforehand he inherited a guy with disciplinary issues but he was not the head man. Now he is, so it will be very interesting to see what comes of it.
“Dylan has been very good by the sounds of things, he has played well for England and they are on a massive winning streak, but your captain needs to be playing.
“Dylan needs game time too in the lead up to the Six Nations. It is very hard for any player to come straight into an international having been laid off for six to eight weeks.”
— Sky Sports Rugby ? (@SkySportsRugby) December 9, 2016