Biting charge for Hartley puts England tour place in jeopardy

Dylan Hartley, the England hooker who re-established himself as a front-runner for British and Irish Lions duty in Australia next year with a strong showing in the Six Nations, will discover early next week if his impressive work over the last couple of months amounts to nothing.

Hartley has been ordered to appear before an independent disciplinary panel in London on Tuesday to face a charge of biting – a serious rugby crime that, if found to have taken place, will bring his season to an immediate end and jeopardise his chances of touring with the national team this summer.

A naturalised New Zealander who knows what it is to rebuild his career after an outbreak of violent excess – he was banned for six months in 2007 for gouging offences – Hartley is accused of biting the Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris on the finger during the first half of last weekend's match at Twickenham.

Nigel Owens, the Welshman who refereed the game, saw nothing of the alleged incident, but was heard to tell the rival captains that there was a "clear mark" on the Ulsterman's digit. Roger Morris, another Welshman, will chair next week's tribunal.

There will be a good deal at stake. Northampton, less than the sum of their parts when the energetic and inspirational Hartley is not in the middle of their front row, have designs on a Premiership play-off place and, conceivably, a first title.

England would not want to lose Hartley either. Hooker is one of the weaker positions in the current national set-up and Hartley's absence from the five-match, three-Test jaunt to South Africa in June would be a grievous blow.

Brad Barritt, the England centre whose tackle count in the Six Nations went off the scale, will start for Saracens, the Premiership champions, at Sale tonight. The bottom club, Newcastle, visit Worcester in the hope of eating into the eight points that separate them from Wasps, their fellow relegation candidates. The two clubs meet in High Wycombe in the last round on 5 May.

In Ireland, the great centre Brian O'Driscoll, injured since the World Cup, makes his first appearance of the northern-hemisphere season for Leinster in tonight's Pro 12 game against the Ospreys in Dublin.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits