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Detailing Dylan Hartley's History Of Incidents Against Irish Players

Detailing Dylan Hartley's History Of Incidents Against Irish Players
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Dylan Hartley's first ban in professional rugby was a biggie. It came in April 2007 when he was given 26 weeks for "making contact with the eye area" of Johnny O'Connor and the eye of James Haskell during a Premiership match between Northampton and Wasps. This is known as gouging in layman's terms. He was also cited for gouging Joe Worsley but was cleared.

It was the biggest ban handed out in the English club game in nine years. Bath prop Kevin Yates got a six month ban for biting in 1998. Orginally, it was proposed that Hartley be banned for 30 weeks. But this was reduced to 26 weeks "after taking into account his good character, youth and inexperience."

It is unlikely that this caveat will be entered into consideration when he is sentenced in the Sean O'Brien case.

His gouging spree in that Wasps-Northampton game included assaults on both English and Irish players. On the Last Word tonight, Neil Francis noted that a disproportionately large number of his victims were Irish. Franno was at pains to say he wasn't inferring anything from this fact.

Hartley has racked up 54 weeks of bans in the past nine years, a tally which will be added to in the coming weeks. 36 of those weeks were meted out for incidents involving Irish players. Although, 26 of the 36 concered an incident which encompassed an assault on an English and Irish player. 11 of the weeks concerned an offence against Wayne Barnes.

Here is a brief turn of Hartley's history with Irish players.


As above, Hartley made contact with the eye area of Johnny O'Connor, along with his English teammate James Haskell. The citing commissioner believed there was a case to answer over a run-in with Joe Worsley but Hartley was cleared.


Ban - 26 weeks


A famous incident on a bleak day for Irish rugby. Back before 100s of props started sprouting up all around the country. Owens didn't see the incident and nor did the commentators.

Hartley was subsequently banned for eight weeks.


It was speculated that he'd receive a stiffer ban but the authorities took account of "five years of good behaviour" in sentencing.

Ban - 8 weeks


Only a fortnight ban for this punch to the face of Rory Best during a December 2012 Heineken Cup match in Ravenhill. Best's comments may have contributed to the shortness of the ban. He told the hearing that there was nothing in it.


Ban - 2 weeks


A violent and incomprehensible swinging arm to the neck of Sean O'Brien. A "clear red card" in the estimation of Jerome Garces. The incident caused Eddie Jones to hold his face in his hands.

Ban - to be determined

Incidents not involving Irish players


11 weeks for calling the referee a "fucking cheat" would probably prompt both footballers and GAA players to go on strike in solidarity. Rugby, as we know, prides itself on being very different.


"This man has just come up and called me a 'fucking cheat'. He leaves the field."

Hartley ruled out of the Lions tour after this incident just before half-time in the Premiership final. Marvel at a catastrophic couple of minutes for Northampton which effectively delivered the game to Leicester.

Ban - 11 weeks



"He scared me from behind. I was just pushing him away."

With Northampton now the reigning Premiership champions, Hartley received three weeks in December 2014 for this elbow to the face of Leicester's Matt Smith. The TMO advised a red.

Ban - 3 weeks


This incident cost him his place in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Stuart Lancaster was presumably suitably exasperated by the litany of offences. His five week ban only took in the four pool games. Lancaster controversially dropped him but it was immaterial as there would be no phase beyond the pool phase for England. The incident sparked a mini-brawl.

Ban - 4 weeks



Read more: 2017 Six Nations Referees Announced And Wayne Barnes Will Referee Wales-Ireland Yet Again

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