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All Blacks snatch victory at the death


Ben Flower red card for vicious punches


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Hala'ufia crunches then slaps Wilson

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hooker Dylan Hartley cited for striking Ulster's Rory Best

Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley has been cited for an incident that took place in the Heineken Cup Pool 4 match at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night. If found guilty, his previous record would lead to one thinking he will receive a fairly hefty ban.

Hartley got in a bit of an off the ball tangle with Ulster hooker Rory Best, leading to what is alleged to have been strikes to the face with the arm or elbow.

The hearing will take place on Thursday and the England hooker will no doubt be in a bit of trouble as his disciplinary record is anything but squeaky clean, with previous misdemeanours including biting and eye gouging. He was banned for eight and twenty six weeks respectively for those.

With the Six Nations in February and Leicester Tigers hooker Tom Youngs doing a good job during the end of year tours, a heavy ban could mean Hartley will find it tough to force his way back in, which would be disastrous for him considering there are British & Irish Lions spots up for grabs.

Under the IRB Recommended Sanctions, Law 10.4 (a) (striking another player) carries the following penalties: Low End: 2 weeks; Mid Range: 5 weeks; Top End: 8+ to 52 weeks.

Hartley appeared to take took three shots, the first of which may have missed, but the second two seemed to make contact. While you can't condone it, in years gone by this would be viewed as just another scrap between two fiercely competitive hookers. These days, you won't get away with it.

The citing commisioners may have another angle to use, but based on what we see here, do you think Hartley deserves to be banned, or as he said post match, is this not really an incident at all?

Picture credit: Onside Images

Posted at 1:01 pm | 62 comments

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Viewing 62 comments

DanKnapp December 11, 2012 4:24 pm

Ignore whether or not it deserves a ban for now, and focus on the fact that he just doesn't have the temperament to play international rugby. He's a liability. A team looking for World Cup glory surely can't pick him in their squad... can they?

As far as I can see from that one shot it looks like a ban is coming his way.

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sithepie December 11, 2012 5:27 pm

Sadly, I have to agree. It's a shame since he's not an untalented player, but if he's too hot-headed for test match rugby then he'll gradually be replaced by Tom Youngs.

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DanKnapp December 11, 2012 5:50 pm

I wonder if there is an element of frustration about the emergence of Youngs? I would imagine a played of Hartley's calibre, and he is a good player, would be watching the rise of Youngs with a certain amount of frustration, which might find its way onto the pitch.

I'm not for a minute excusing Hartley, I think he will probably get a ban for a relatively minor offence - more for his record than for his actions in this game.

I like the fact that rugby players can have a bit of a scuffle in the game and then get on with it, and don't really want to see that removed forever. I think children seeing two grown men belting each other, then shaking hands minutes later or at the end of the game, is a much better example than people give credit for.

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neckbrace December 11, 2012 4:24 pm

Surprise surprise. Scumbag Hartley at it again. Deserves a lengthy ban based on his shocking record.

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jeppy89 December 13, 2012 3:46 pm

Scumbag, past offences sure gouging and biting indefensible, but thats pretty harsh here?

hardly think best is innocent just ends up losing the scuffle, hes on top of hartley off the ball at the start.

He'll get cited for a stupid record but as stroudos says below thats not really how any form of justice system should work.

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callum December 11, 2012 4:27 pm

There is no way in hell he should be cited for that. That's the kind of thing that should be laughed off in the bar after the match.

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neckbrace December 11, 2012 4:30 pm

I agree with what Dan said to a degree.
Anyone else, yeah no worries not the worst offence in the world, but with his record, eye gouging, biting- think it's fair to say he should be cited.

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stroudos December 11, 2012 6:02 pm

And here we have a perfect illustration of why juries are not allowed to know about past misdemeanours until *after* the verdict has been reached...

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themull December 11, 2012 4:42 pm

nothing more than handbags really...A bit of that adds to the game in my opinion.>Sure it should be penalised on the field of play and how the linesman didnt see it is beyond me...but to get a ban for a little fracus like that is a joke...The only reason I might condone one in this case is on account of his previous actions..

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TechnoMouse December 11, 2012 4:51 pm

Agree with you mull, doesn't seem to be much in it. Worse goes on at the bottom of most rucks anyway surely? I would expect to see a ban come from this, but as you say largely due to Hartley's past incidents. Shame, as I thought he had tidied himself up and improved his game recently.

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Citing Commissioner December 11, 2012 4:46 pm

If this sort of thing warrants a citing it's extremely fortunate lower level rugby isn't routinely videoed. There would be about two players left free to play.
Remember the Lewsey/Rogers incident a few years back, we all loved it, now they would both be banned for 5 weeks for cuffing each other round the ear and Lewsey would probably receive and additional 8 weeks for his tackle.

The whole citing system is turning into an absolute joke.

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UpandAway December 11, 2012 4:46 pm

Absolutely horrific foul play. Deserves a long ban. There is no place for these aggressive actions in rugby............ I hope no kids watched this match, sickening. Hartley has taken the sport to new lows. Such violence has rarely been seen on a rugby pitch.

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KevinB December 11, 2012 4:46 pm

For me it appears Best was 'tripping' or 'falling' onto Hartley which may of sparked this. It could be passed off as fairly harmless on its own, but I think the citing commissioner is correct to bring this up if he felt it warrants it and let the committee decide. We might see him get a low end ban but given Hartleys track record he might get more. Have to wonder if he would have kept going at best if Afoa didn't pull him off

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stroudos December 11, 2012 6:06 pm

Have to wonder if he would have kept going at best if Afoa didn't pull him off

Oo-er Matron!

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curates_egg December 11, 2012 4:52 pm

An elbow to the face is legal now? Where's the doubt?

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Colombes December 11, 2012 4:58 pm

Hm... tricky case
I won't comment on Hartley intentions as he built his own "thug" reputation...
i'm more annoyed by the citations system.

Personnally, i thought citations were created to catch dangerous or malicious actions.
I far prefer to see bans where a player will learn to avoid tip-tackles, eye-gouging or any sort of violence, than citations for any incident on a pitch.

as said before by RD, the last cases of violence or illegal tackles without cool-head attitudes. so u will have english and saints fans who will find it normal and others who will cry for a ban... both postures are ridicule.

Here, it should have been the job of the assistant to show his flag and recommend a yellow for Hartley, without after-match citations and we won't even talked about it.

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Gonzoman December 11, 2012 5:00 pm

Anyone else notice the excellent work by John Afoa? He comes in, gets Hartley off his mate, then runs off to join the play. I reckon things would have escalated if it weren't for Afoa's timely and well-executed intervention. Quality bloke.

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DanKnapp December 11, 2012 5:59 pm

Good spot Gonzoman.

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ConnachtMan December 11, 2012 5:02 pm

MMA forearm/elbow to the head. Ban the git.

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Gonter December 11, 2012 5:02 pm

First do I think Hartley should be sighted yes. should he get a ban No it was a yellow card at worst!

But in his Defence Rory best was his typical dirty self all round the pitch and after 60 minutes I think enough was enough in Hartleys eyes

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Max December 11, 2012 5:26 pm

to those saying he shouldn't be banned, it does look like he properly nails best in the face once then continues with two elbows (though they didn't exactly cause much harm) so I can't see a citing board really letting this go, regardless of his record. shame tho, thought he'd turned over a new leaf, would've thought being made captain of England for game would have stopped this.

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brolly21 December 11, 2012 5:44 pm

Hartley should be banned for life as one of the most persistently dirty players in the game. I've never seen him play without committing at least one foul

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DaveC December 11, 2012 5:54 pm

A definite ban. Hes trying to come down with his elbow on Best. Hes doing this because he knows that it still damages as much as a punch but is less likely to be picked up on. Hes scum and should be treated as such

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Guy December 11, 2012 6:12 pm

Not much in it: instead of protecting himself, Best raises his arms to draw the ref's attention so there can't have been much force involved.

Surely he will get a ban. But as Stroudos said: this case should be judged on it's own merit, not on past behaviour.

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Pretzel December 11, 2012 6:31 pm

Yawn...boring... two hookers disagreeing and then getting on with the game... hardly a nice reaction from "hot headed Hartley" but not exactly citing worthy imo.... looked more like a "get off me"

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Pretzel December 11, 2012 11:29 pm

oh, for the record I meant boring that there is great controversy and a citing, the video was great RD. Thanks.

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ChillDoubt December 11, 2012 6:49 pm

Same old, same old from Hartley i.e. the inevitable cheap shot, never having the courage to square up man to man.
I expect nothing less from him. Biting and sly digs are part of his armoury.

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el conije December 11, 2012 7:49 pm

handbags but he is a prat - mind you his gouging & biting suggest he hasnt really learned his lesson.
still as an ulster fan i'd be disappointed if hes banned this sat as we all wanted to give dylan a hearty ulster welcome!

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daluaine December 11, 2012 7:50 pm

I agree wih many of the comments above. I do think that citing is becoming increasingly petty and much more involved than perhaps waht it was initially set up to achieve. In particular I feel that players retaliating to obvious provocation are often hard done to, especially where the referee or touch judge is unsighted and, therefore, not in a position to protect the victim.

However, there are three things that concern me about Hartley's actions in this case. Firstly there does not appear to be any obvious provocation (not saying there wasn't, but it wasn't obvious) - just seemed like a tangle on the floor with perhaps some contact as Best tried to free himself and get back into defence. Secondly, the use of the elbow (see comments above). But lastly it looks like he was just about to let fly with a scorcher and was only prevented by the swift and very fair actions of Afoa.

Doubt if he'll escape a ban - the use of the elbow was particularly nasty. I think his previous should be taken into account as it is obvious that he lacks self-control and self-discipline. The national team may be better off without him.

Would like to see Afoa's actions commended by the citing committee.

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Andy December 11, 2012 8:24 pm

Of course there will be a ban..

What sort of message does this give out to all the kids playing rugby? Elbows would be flying everywhere come Saturday morning if he was let off.

Offenses like this are made example of. Especially towards someone who is supposed to be setting an example.

As captain of the Saints he not only let himself down, but let the club down too.

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jennered December 11, 2012 9:05 pm

For this one incident there is no way in hell he should be banned, it is hand bags and no more, but considering his record he will probably gets 4 weeks. Talk of him losing an England place due to this is rubbish, he's a great player and of late has brought a good level of aggression to the pitch.

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Medium Sized C December 11, 2012 9:42 pm

I have to admit I prejudged him before looking at it, he has a real fondness for saying hello with his lower arm.

But there you go.
Pretty much straight up and down ban for me.

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browner December 11, 2012 9:44 pm

There is no way one of the Assistant refs wouldn't have seen that .......

The 1st forearm said ....."don't mess with me"
The next forearm said, ....... "& don't forget it"
& the 3rd Forearm/Elbow said, ....... "I'm a cheapshot idiot who's lost control & forgotten that camera's are on me"

He'll get a ban, cos CC have no choice when the officials abdicate responsibility

Of course it didn't hurt Best, but that's largely irrelevant, cos Hartley was actually trying too.

He'll get 2/3 weeks, my 'Best' Guess

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Doyler8 December 11, 2012 10:29 pm

at the ensuing scrum you can see hartley take another cheap shot at best by kneeing best in the head, if you watch closely at the collapsed scrum from 0.36-0.39 you can see hartleys right leg and white boot come forward with a decent amount of force and knee rory bests white scrum cap (look between the northampton looseheads legs to see the white scrum cap being knee'd) that's why best reacts after the scrum, another cheap shot from a scumy player!

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Max December 12, 2012 11:48 pm

great spot! you should have a job at the citing office, that was just outrageous, just such low behavior, because you know he'd never do anything in a fair fight, just hits people while they're down. what an absolute t**t. hope he gets nailed at some point, might knock this crap out of him.

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Willwillrob December 11, 2012 10:57 pm

I hope he gets banned He isn't hot headed. he is just a thug. previous convictions of EYE GOUGING and BITING come one thats just dirty. it was an innocent scrap and Best seemed content to leave it at that and move on. but there is three swings involved there no need for it anymore.

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Tom December 12, 2012 2:08 am

I honestly done see what he did wrong!!!

Best is holding him down, trying to walk over him to get up and prevent hartley from helping his team. You see most people swing arms at people holding them down.

If anything Best should be cited for foul play

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Willem December 12, 2012 10:31 am

First time I'm commenting here on RD, because I think I've actually spotted something nobody else has (or at least bothered to comment on).

In the replay at the end of the video it looked like Best was starting the scuffle on the floor (although not really being the aggressor). But at 0:15 in the clip (bottom right of the screen), it kinda looks like Best was just trying to walk away, but was then pulled to the ground by Hartley. This would make the aggression in this "incident" even more one-sided. I'd rather see two willing combatants (like ice hockey), than this crap from Hartley (but no fighting at all preferably).

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Forever-UUC-Rugby December 12, 2012 1:02 pm

I agree with Willem, nothing beats a good scrap from time to time but nothing in anyones head can justify dragging a player to the ground and strike him 3 times with your elbow, esp. when the player doesn't retaliate after the first strike. IMO Hartley was getting killed all day by Best, as Best is one of the best scrummaging hookers in the world at the moment. He should get banned to teach him a lesson, if both players went hammer and tong at each other I'd say let them go at it... but what he did in PLAIN SIGHT I might had, is asking for a ban.

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The Law December 12, 2012 5:39 pm

Unfortunately there are a group of 'up-and-coming' English rugby players who are tarnishing their union's prestigious name with hot-headed foul play. Players like Dylan Hartley, Delon Armitage, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi, Chris Ashton, Andy Hazell and Calum Clark spring to mind.
Rugby is a physical sport, no doubt! But in this day and age, with cameras everywhere and assistant referees on the look out, it is unacceptable to throw a punch. You will get caught, you will get punished and you will let your team down.
Why not channel that rage into a massive, legal, hit later in the game, which may see the momentum swing in your favour?

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Facepalm December 12, 2012 7:36 pm

Why do you consider Courtney Lawes a dirty player? Is there something I've missed?

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Facepalm December 13, 2012 7:00 pm

You've sent me four articles. One of which doesn't work. The other there is a short paragraph about him getting yellow carded. And two of them are directed at this (http://www.rugbydump.com/2011/09/2102/englands-courtney-lawes-suspended-for-two-weeks) same incident. Take a look at that video. What happens is completely innocuous and then ban is unjustified.You've made a sweeping accusation about a player with nothing to back it up with. I've never seen Lawes act like Hartley, Clark etc. And judging by your lack of evidence neither have you. Don't let your patriotism blind your ability to respect other country's players. Think before you comment.

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Reality December 13, 2012 8:04 pm

I don't know Facepalm; I think he has a point about Lawes. He seems to specialise in tackling people after they've passed/kicked and getting away with it, and that 'innocuous' knee to the face is only innocuous in your opinion. Obviously he hasn't been banned a lot, so it's easy to say there's no evidence that he's a dirty player, but Richie McCaw hardly ever gets penalised, but that doesn't mean he isn't a big cheat.

I remember they did a piece on The Breakdown during the World Cup where they brought up a bunch of incidents where Lawes had injured people in technically legal ways. I wish I could find the video on youtube. I suppose this will have to do instead: http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/cynicism-is-now-normal-as-game-heads-down-the-toilet-2921118.html

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Facepalm December 14, 2012 12:48 am

If there's no evidence to call him a dirty player then he's not a dirty player. Unlike you I'm not working with opinion.

As a footnote, that is truly garbage journalism.

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Reality December 14, 2012 10:16 am

Oh, so if you get away with something you can't be guilty of it? And do you really think a number of citings from a notoriously flawed citing system would be irrefutable evidence?

Anyway, yes, I am working with an opinion. In saying that he's not dirty though, you're also working with an opinion, so calm down friend. And I'd say the knee to the head and subsequent ban is pretty good evidence anyway.

And I admit Neil Francis isn't the most eloquent of journalists, but I think he raises some very good points.

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Facepalm December 15, 2012 2:09 am

You have a wonderful way of boring me into submission.

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jeppy89 December 13, 2012 3:58 pm

You buddy are a prat, first of all you've listed hazell as a up and coming, hes probably in his last season. secondly before his recent citing, where he was a clear victim of 60 minutes of cheap shots hed never recieved a red or citing in his career.

Troll

your reference to armitage i have no complaints, kids a prat. hartley clearly hot headed also. calum clark should be banned for life, largely as it was shown that was not hot headed it was just deliberate thuggery.

sweeping generalisations mate. you want to look at people bringing the game into disrepute your a few years too late.....bakkies for instance hartley and armitage may be pushing themselves into that category the rest not.

hazell has been an exemplary rugby player over a great career - he was systematically targeted in that game, and i dont feel he warrants being anywhere near your comment.

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Pretzel December 14, 2012 9:29 pm

Are you 100% on Hazells past career?

I don't know anything about the guy, but I remember a lot of people saying the same thing as you have said etc, but I remember at the time reading that Hazell received a 16 week ban and then had 2 weeks ADDED to his ban because of his disciplinary record and then a 4 week reduction because of the guilty plea...

I don't have any knowledge of Hazell's past, but adding 2 weeks because of his record makes it sound like Hazell is no Angel...

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Facepalm December 12, 2012 7:44 pm

Nothing major, no evil intentions and Best was giving it a bit himself. But there's really no defence for Hartley. A professional shouldn't lose his cool like that. It wasn't a case of self defence, so what is the point.

I don't think he should be banned. But it was so very childish and stupid.

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frank December 12, 2012 8:03 pm

They say you can only change a persons behaviour by 5%-- I am a Saints fan and Mr Hartley is a very bad advert for the game. I think he can very easily be wound up and it doesnt do the side he is playing for any favours. I dont believe this incident was particularly serious and he is now in danger of becoming the Balotelli of the Rugby Premiership. What sort of ban-- I think some real guidance needs to come from the club as he is only an asset when he is playing and at the moment and in the past 2 years too many Northampton players have sat out long periods of the season through such behavior.

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Frenchie December 12, 2012 9:45 pm

I find it a quite nasty punch. He is using his elbow there, or not?

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Reality December 12, 2012 11:41 pm

I wonder is Hartley where Callum Clarke learned to be such a gentleman from. I don't know if it's just two bad eggs, or maybe it's a cultural thing in Northampton, but something doesn't seem to be quite right with their discipline.

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Tc December 12, 2012 11:54 pm

I think a lot of comment on here is a bit unfair and is based purely on a dislike for Hartley or all things English.

The simple question I would ask is why hasn't Best been cited? It appears that he started the incident. You can't blame hartley for defending himself.

However we, myself included, see only what we want to see

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Reality December 13, 2012 12:41 am

Fact: from what's shown in the video, Best didn't do anything illegal or dangerous.

Fact: from what's shown in the video, Hartley elbowed Best several times in the face, 'defending' himself even though Best was powerless underneath Hartley.

We see what's there, not just what we want to see.

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Tc December 13, 2012 1:12 am

Hartley is lying on the floor doing nothing fact.
Best ends up on top of him arms flailing fact.
Hartley reacts fact
But you've concluded that Hartley is purely at fault. He reacted to something, not intentionally sought out to harm another player with the premeditated intent that seems to be asserted by most posters

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foxinator December 13, 2012 5:42 pm

If you look at 0:50 you clearly see hartley dragging best down on top of him.He then proceedes to strike bests face with his elbow.
How is that not intentional?
This is pure thuggish behavior and deserves a ban even without considering his record

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Reality December 13, 2012 9:47 pm

Well, your claim that Hartley was on the ground doing nothing isn't really a fact, because Hartley is holding onto Best, and so it could be argued that he dragged Best down on top of him.

Anyway, as the commentators say, it's tit-for-tat at the start, then Hartley goes to town on Best's head with his elbow. I don't think a little bit of a scuffle on the ground between two players can be considered grounds for citing Best, and I think you definitely can blame Hartley for 'defending himself' from a bit of debatably purposeful clumlsiness from Best, with three elbows to the head.

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daluaine December 13, 2012 8:02 pm

BBC Sport online:

"
Northampton Saints' Dylan Hartley given two-week ban

Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley has been banned for two weeks for striking Ulster's Rory Best.

The incident happened in the second half of last Friday's Heineken Cup match at Franklin's Gardens, which Ulster won 25-6.

The Saints skipper was cited after the match and pleaded guilty to the charge. "

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Calon Lan December 16, 2012 9:06 pm

It's difficult with people like Hartley as this seems almost constant.

You can help people to control themselves when they get into situations like he does but when it comes down to it, it's down to him and him alone and he doesn't want to change.

Clubs need to take responsibility for repeat offenders and they should be punished too if they're playing somebody who just does't seem fit to play the sport.

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browner May 29, 2013 12:04 am

Whoever laughs last, laughs the longest.

Hartley... Lions R.I.P. Boarding Card please Mr Best !

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