21 Jan 2016

England winger cops eye gouging ban

5:27 am on 21 January 2016

Saracens winger Chris Ashton's hopes of reigniting his England career during the Six Nations rugby championship were ended by a 10-week ban that will rule him out of the entire tournament.

Chris Ashton runs in a try for Saracens.

Chris Ashton runs in a try for Saracens. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ashton, named in new coach Eddie Jones' first England squad after winning his last cap in June 2014, was found guilty of making contact with the eye area of an opponent at a European Professional Club Rugby disciplinary hearing.

The 28-year-old denied the offence, which related to an incident with Ulster centre Luke Marshall during the teams' European Champions Cup game last weekend.

The hearing's Judicial Officer found that Ashton, who has been warned about discipline in the past, had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card and was given a 12-week suspension.

"He added one week as a deterrent according to World Rugby's memorandum regarding offences of this nature, before reducing the sanction by three weeks due to Ashton's good character and good conduct at the hearing," an EPCR statement said.

Ashton, who has scored 19 tries in 39 internationals, has played only two tests since 2013 but has continued to score tries for Saracens.

His ban will end on March 28. England begin their Six Nations campaign at Murrayfield against Scotland on Feb. 6, and end it on March 19 against France.