Saracens and England wing Chris Ashton will miss the Six Nations after he has been suspended for ten weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in London on Wednesday.
Ashton was cited by the match Citing Commissioner, Yves Thieffine (France), for allegedly making contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area of the Ulster centre Luke Marshall in the 16th minute of the Champions Cup Round 5 match at Allianz Park in contravention of Law 10.4 (m).
Law 10.4 (m) Contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area
Under World Rugby's Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 10.4 (m), Contact with the eye(s) and/or eye area carries the following sanction entry points – Low End: 12 weeks; Mid-Range: 18 weeks; Top End: 24 to 208 weeks.
The independent Judicial Officer, Jean-Noel Couraud (France), heard evidence and submissions from Ashton, who pleaded not guilty to the offence, from the Saracens Team Manager, JP O'Reilly, from the Saracens legal representative, Chris Smith, and from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan.
In upholding the citing complaint, the Judicial Officer found that Ashton had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card. He determined that that offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and selected 12 weeks as the appropriate entry point.
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. He then imposed a suspension of 10 weeks.
Ashton is free to play on Monday, 28 March 2016. Both the player and EPCR have the right to appeal the decision.