Dylan Hartley will be allowed to continue as England captain by the Rugby Football Union regardless of the outcome of the hearing that threatens to curtail his RBS 6 Nations participation.
Hartley will discover this afternoon the length of the suspension he must serve after being sent off for landing a swinging arm on the head of Sean O’Brien in Northampton’s defeat by Leinster.
Champions Cup organisers confirmed the 30-year-old has been charged with striking, entailing a five-week ban for a mid-range offence and eight weeks if the infringement is considered high-end.
An appalling disciplinary record comprising of 54 weeks of bans for misdemeanours including biting, gouging and butting are likely to result in an increase to the sanction imposed and he could be unavailable when France visit Twickenham on February 4.
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, however, points to Hartley’s superb leadership during an unblemished run of 13 successive Test victories to explain why he should remain at the helm.
“I think Dylan’s got credit in the bank. We’ve had 13 wins out of 13 and Dylan has made a huge contribution and he should be allowed to continue that.”
The biggest call of Eddie Jones’ one-year reign has been to appoint Hartley as captain. His judgement has been justified by the hooker’s influence in helping England win a Grand Slam and complete an historic series whitewash of Australia.
Meanwhile Cardiff Blues have confirmed Gethin Jenkins has undergone surgery to repair a ruptured bicep.
The 36-yer-old suffered the injury in the Blues’ recent Guinness PRO12 clash with Ulster and faces an estimated three months on the sidelines.
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