England hooker Dylan Hartley lost his place on the British and Irish Lions tour when he was sent off in the Premiership final on this day 10 years ago.
The Northampton captain was shown a red card for dissent shortly before half-time in his side’s 37-17 defeat to Leicester in the climax to the domestic season at Twickenham.
Hartley was alleged to have called referee Wayne Barnes a “f****** cheat” and was subsequently hit with an 11-week ban.
Hartley insisted his volley of abuse had not been aimed at the official but at Leicester hooker Tom Youngs. However, he had been warned about his language by Barnes just two minutes earlier.
He did not contest his punishment and sat out the Lions’ 10-game tour of Hong Kong and Australia, for which the squad flew out just two days later.
Rory Best was called up as Hartley’s replacement by coach Warren Gatland.
Speaking about the incident years later, Hartley admitted he felt he had let his colleagues and himself down.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” he said. “It was Northampton’s first ever final in the Premiership. I let down not only the team but the town, and then personally I’d been to the Lions camp the week before and had all that kit.”
Hartley did earn another chance at the Premiership final the following year and was on the winning side as Saints beat Saracens in extra time.
He did captain England to Six Nations glory twice, but there were no more Lions opportunities as he was overlooked for the 2017 New Zealand tour. He retired in 2019.