Dylan Hartley will be available for selection ahead of England’s autumn internationals after disciplinary action against him was dismissed at a hearing on Wednesday.
According to a statement released by European Professional Club Rugby(EPCR), the committee hearing Hartley’s case found that the Northampton hooker was guilty of an act of “reckless foul play” when he struck Rabah Slimani in the first half of a Champions Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin over the weekend, but they were not convinced that he deserved to be shown a red card rather than the yellow that referee Ben Whitehouse brandished in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
In spite of the dismissal, Northampton’s director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, voiced displeasure with how the situation developed, claiming that Hartley should never have been brought before the committee in the first place and questioning whether the England captain was being unfairly targeted as a result of his past infractions.
“Anyone who watched the game could see that this was completely accidental – a misjudgment at a clear–out, plain and simple,” he said. “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.”
England’s Joe Marler and Nathan Hughes will have their cases heard later today, as they were both cited following incidents during this past weekend’s European action.
England’s autumn series gets underway on November 11th when they face Argentina at Twickenham. They will face Australia a week later and Samoa on the 25th of November.