London - England
captain Dylan Hartley will discover on Wednesday if his latest
disciplinary infraction costs him missing the start of their Six Nations
The 30-year-old New Zealand-born hooker - who has served 54 weeks of
suspensions in his career because of various disciplinary issues -
will appear at a hearing over his sending-off in Friday's European
Champions Cup match between his side Northampton and Irish province
He had been on the pitch for just six minutes when he was given a red
card by referee Jerome Garces for swinging an arm at flanker Sean
O'Brien, who subsequently failed a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), and
with England coach Eddie Jones sitting in the stands.
Jones surprised many in appointing Hartley captain when he took over
after the 2015 World Cup. But the choice proved inspired with Hartley
captaining the side to a record-equalling 14th successive win just over a
week ago. Nevertheless Jones was seen running his hand down his face at
Northampton's director of rugby Jim Mallinder said he could not defend Hartley over the sending off.
Hartley runs the risk of an eight-week ban, jeopardising his chances
of captaining England in the Six Nations and leading the British and
Irish Lions in New Zealand next year.
England - who if Hartley is unavailable could well be captained by
kicker Owen Farrell - begin the defence of their Grand Slam against
France at Twickenham on February 4.
Hartley's sorry disciplinary record includes suspensions for head-butting, biting and gouging.
He was dropped by then England coach Stuart Lancaster - now on the
coaching staff at Leinster - for the 2015 World Cup after headbutting
Saracens' Jamie George.