Dylan Hartley banned for six weeks, avoids Six Nations suspension
By Stephen Turner
Last Updated: 14/12/16 10:22pm
Dylan Hartley has been banned for six weeks and will be available for the start of England's Six Nations defence.
The England captain was sent off for striking Sean O'Brien during Northampton's European Rugby Champions' Cup game against Leinster at the weekend.
There were fears Hartley's poor disciplinary record could land him a suspension of eight weeks, ruling him out of England's opening Six Nations game against France.
But a disciplinary panel deemed the offence 'mid-range' and handed out a statutory five-week suspension, with one extra week owing to the hooker's previous bans totalling 54 weeks.
The red card was the third of Hartley's career and a first since Eddie Jones gave him the England captaincy in January.
England have since won every Test on their way to a Grand Slam and a series whitewash of Australia in the summer, and Hartley received the backing of the Rugby Football Union earlier this week.
The 30-year-old will be unavailable for Northampton's next six games before his ban is up on January 23, 12 days before England host France at Twickenham.